March 10th, 2020 10pm Stage 3
Rafael has established himself as a premier guitarist and composer since his arrival in NYC in 2011. He has performed at renowned venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club, ShapeShifter Lab, DROM, Shrine World Music, The Bitter End, The Rainbow Room, The Metropolitan Room, 54 Below, Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club, The 55 Bar, The Edison Ballroom and Bowery Electric. He has received rave reviews on his playing as a sideman with Tony Award Winning Singer Luba Mason and her project Mixtura, The Prince Of Bollywood Jeffrey Iqbal & Unity Through Music, Cody Geil’s Bon Musique, Night Of The Living Funk, Steven Frieder Group, Ben Rosenblum’s Nebula amongst others.
Rafael is an accomplished composer. His debut as a leader “Portrait” (2014) was co-produced by Multi-Grammy Award Winning Bassist/Composer John Benitez and was awarded 4 stars from both international and local publications. “Portrait” features an incredible cast of master musicians bringing together Puerto Rico’s Bomba and Plena rhythms, Jazz harmony, and rock’s aggressive nature to form a unique and original canvas of sound beyond the normal clave.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rafael taught himself the guitar at age 14. During his time in Puerto Rico, he performed and recorded with local greats there such as Eric Figueroa(Batacumbele), Ramon Vazquez(Bakere), Edmar Colon, Jonathan Suazo, Raul Maldonado, Felipe Fournier and his band [menos es mas], who was nominated for Best Jazz Album from ACAM with their self titled album, performing in Festivals all throughout the island.
In 2013 he graduated from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Music with a Masters Of Music in Jazz Performance. During his time there he studied and performed with some of the city’s top musicians including Kenny Werner, Jean Michel Pilc, John Scofield, Stefon Harris, Alan Ferber, Wayne Krantz, Peter Bernstein, Brad Shepik, Bruce Arnold, Tony Moreno, Mike Rodriguez, Alan Ferber, Miguel Zenon amongst other teaching artists. While at NYU he taught undergraduate students as part of the faculty. He was also invited to perform with the Afro-Peruvian Group “Karachacha” and guest artist Dave Pietro as part of the 2013 Jazz Educators Network Annual Conference (JEN) in Atlanta, Georgia amongst other performances including playing with Kenny Werner’s Group At The Blue Note Jazz Club.
Rafael has been teaching for the past 9 years in Brooklyn. Recently, he has accepted a position as Guitar Faculty at Long Island University’s Digital Media Department led by Kenyatta Beasley. He has also taught in schools and colleges such as NYU, CUNY, Saint John’s , The Brooklyn Music School, Stevens Cooperative and his private studio: The Brooklyn Rock Academy, helping students graduate high school and attend schools such as Berklee College of Music, Wells College, Indiana University, to name a few. He regularly performs in NYC as a sideman and as a leader so be sure to check the calendar. Rafael is currently putting the finishing touches on his second album as a leader titled “Axiomatic: Music For The People” set to be recorded in Spring 2020, and released later in the year.