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Guzman, Pedro

Born on 18 November, 1956 in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Guzmán took an early interest in music, learning to play the guitar and avidly listening to music by the time he was five years old. Later he joined the chorus at his high school and church.

By age 13, Guzmán formed a band together with his sister and went on to perform on a radio show contest, winning first prize. His musical training continued at the Caguas Free School of Music. During the course of his studies, in 1970, Guzmán became a professional musician as a member of Cuqui Rodríguez Quintet, playing guitar, bass guitar and sometimes the cuatro.

In that same year, Guzmán made his first recording, with a group called the Orquesta Algodón de Azúcar. He moved on to perform with several other salsa bands but dabbled with playing jazz. In 1972, Guzmán recorded a Christmas album with a band called Puerto Rico 72, with which he toured in Peru. Guzmán subsequently toured in Texas with another band and even lived there for a short time, playing Latin music in the local night clubs. On his return to Puerto Rico, he joins Grupo Transito, playing the bass and cuatro with them for seven years.

During the next decade, Guzmán performed with various well known Puerto Rican bands and other artists, including Haciendo Punto en Otro Son and José Nogueras. In 1987, Guzmán founded the band called Jíbaro Jazz (glossary term jíbaro), which would bring him to the fore of the music scene in Puerto Rico and bring him commercial success. With Jíbaro Jazz, he played the cuatro as a soloist and fully developed his unique style and skills. By the end of their first year Jíbaro Jazz had their first public performance, and released their debut album, the self-titled Jíbaro Jazz 1 the next year, 1988.

The success of Pedro Guzmán and Jíbaro Jazz can be said to come from their ability to “transcend not only cultural limits, but cultural as well”. Guzmán applied the same instruments used in the traditional jíbaro music and but transformed it by exploring all the capabilties of those instruments and applying them to present the traditional in a new style. The uniqueness is evident in the following example of Guzmán playing a seis: Seis Antillano.

Guzmán’s second recording with Jíbaro Jazz, entitled Jíbaro Jazz 2 was released in 1990, followed by Pedro Guzmán y Jíbaro Jazz 3 and Cosas Nuevas, both released in 1993 on the Rodven label. Also on the Rodven label was Guzmán’s next recording, Live At The Blue Note in 1994. During those years Guzmán also recorded with many other noted artists such as Danny Rivera, Tony Croatto, Los Cantores de San Juan, Roberto Lugo, Descarga Boricua, Orquesta La Luz, Nicky Aponte and Roy Brown.

More recent recordings by Guzmán include Mapeyé y Montuno in 1999 and Cuatro Rumbero Vol 2, released in 2000. These demonstrate his mastery of the cuatro instrument and its application to playing folk music in jazz style unique to him.

Discography

Cuatro Rumbero Vol 2 (2000)

Mapeye y Montuno (1999)

Fantasia del Cuatro (1999)

El Artesano (1999)

Cuatro Rumbero (1998)

Jibaro Jazz (1998)

Pedro Guzmán and Jibaro Jazz Six (1996)

Jibaro Jazz Vol. 6 (1996)

Cosas Nuevas (1994)

Live at the Blue Note (1994)

Jibaro Jazz Vol. 3 (1992)

Jibaro Jazz Vol. 1 (1991)

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