GABRIEL ALEGRIA – Afro-Peruvian jazz artist
One of the most influential figures on the current jazz scene in Perú, Gabriel Alegria was born into an artistic family in Lima in 1970. Alegria’s grandfather Ciro was Peru’s most famous novelist and his father Alonso is Perú’s most acclaimed playwright.
The Afro-Peruvian Sextet currently tours in support of their latest release Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings – Saponegro February 2013) which includes twelve new pieces of music showcasing a breathtaking range of cultural sounds emanating from Black Coastal Perú. The CD includes collaborations with formidable native Afro-Peruvian artists Freddy “Huevito” Lobaton (Peruvian percussion – cajon, quijada, cajita), Hugo Alcázar (drums), Yuri Juárez (acoustic guitar) and Laura Andrea Leguía (saxophones). The CD also features 5-time grammy winner John Benitez on bass and Shirazette Tinnin on drums. Ciudad de los Reyes is a tribute to Lima, the capital city of Perú.
During the course of a career that has spanned the globe, Alegria has appeared in concert and/or on recordings with Arturo O’Farrill, Maria Schneider, Placido Domingo, Kenny Werner, Ingrid Jensen, Tierney Sutton, The Peruvian National Symphony, Bill Watrous, Russ Ferrante and Alex Acuña. Most recently Gabriel completed the groundbreaking “Tour Peru”, a new model in touring that includes fans that accompany the Afro-Peruvian Sextet throughout Peru. He has also performed concerts for the United Nations and various diplomatic missions from around the world. The Afro-Peruvian Sextet has appeared in over 600 concerts and master classes throughout North America.
Alegria combines his experience playing jazz as it developed in the U.S. with a passionate interest and careful study of the black music of coastal Perú. By incorporating and exploring the common African roots found in both styles, he has developed a uniquely Afro-Peruvian jazz music concept. The rich legacy of the black music of coastal Perú can be heard in a New York City jazz context. Alegría has carefully defined Afro-Peruvian jazz music as the newest voice to come from Latin America. His previous three albums on Saponegro (Nuevo Mundo, 2008; Pucusana, 2010; El Secreto del Jazz Afroperuano 2012) garnered 16 Latin Jazz corner awards including album of the year. All About Jazz awarded the prestigious “Latin Jazz Album of the year” category to The Sextet.
Currently Professor of Jazz at New York University, Alegria earned a doctorate in jazz studies from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree from the City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College. His knowledge of Afro-Peruvian music is the result of fieldwork and growing up in Perú learning from the art form’s greatest exponents.