Born on September 19, 1967, in Guanabacoa/La Habana/Cuba, Julio Cesar Barreto Penie comes as the fifth son in his family and one of the best drummers of the modern era. Barreto was born in a family of talented individuals. His older brothers always encouraged him to follow his dreams. His uncle Justo Barreto Rodrigues, a pianist from Louis Armstrong, and Alberto Barreto, a composer from Benny More, also greatly influenced his life-long career.
Julio Barreto was only seven years old when he started playing Afro-Cuban percussion. By the time he was 12 years old, Barreto was already playing in different private and public situations. He attended the National School of Art in 1983. He also went through a 6-year course in classical music from the Academy of “Amadeo Roldan”. During his studies, Barreto never stopped playing the drum. He took his playing to another level when he started playing in different Cuban bands, including Kiki Corona and Roberto Poveda.
He also enjoyed playing jazz, which he performed in various national festivals, including Babe, under the directorship of Carlos Puig. He also played at Cause, as directed by Jose Carlos Acosta. At the same time, the drummer played with Laurindo Almeida from Brazil in a duo. Barreto went on with his studies, after which he started performing with various great artists from Cuba.
He became a familiar figure in the Cuban music scene, working in different theatres and festivals. A good example is his works with Xiomara Laugart and Alfredo Rodriguez. In January ’91, Barreto joined Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s group. But before that, he has been playing for one year with another group called Cuarto Espacio, under Omar Hernandez.
They say a drummer is recognized for his style and influence on every song he plays. Julio Barreto is one performer who has proven this theory. He is a talented drummer and an inventor who always finds new ways to play his drums and bring his music to life. Barreto and Rubalcaba have been traveling around the globe successfully for more than seven years. They have worked in Trio and Quartet all the time, producing incredible music and allowing the world to experience their talents.
Barreto was a member of both groups at the same time. In the Trio by Rubalcaba, he worked with Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Miroslav Vitous, John Patitucci, or Buster Williams on the bass. He played the drums, and Rubalcaba played the piano. The Quartet was also formed by Rubalcaba (Piano), with him on the drums, Felipe Cabrera on the bass, and Reynaldo Melian (tp). Together, they have published several CDs, including Suite, Rapsodia, Diz, and Antiguo.
Julio Barreto has been working with Roy Hargrove’s Crisol all Stars since 1997. They recorded a new album together. At the same time, he was touring the Julio Barreto Cuban Quartet, a group he had formed back in 1995.
When he was not traveling, Barreto will be playing in different concerts with a wide range of musicians both locally and internationally. He has signed an agreement with Sonor, Zildjian, Remo, and Regal. Today, he lives in Switzerland, where he also teaches at the Jazzschool Basel.