SABIAN is thrilled to announce it has just signed Grammy award-winning and 3-time Grammy-nominated RAUL PINEDA. Raul is one of the most innovative Latin drummers in the world. His unique style of playing – a blend of Afro Cuban and contemporary influences applied to modern drum set – has cemented his status as one of the most influential Cuban drummers of his generation.
“I have been a fan of Raul’s playing since I first saw him perform at the PAS Day of Percussion in Las Vegas almost 10 years ago,” writes SABIAN AR Director Chris Stankee. “He is a naturally talented drummer with supreme chops and combined with his roots in Cuban music really makes his playing something special. Sabian is proud to have such an esteemed performer choose our cymbals to express himself.”
Born and raised in Havana, Raul’s musical foundation developed among challenging socio-economic surroundings. As a young boy, Raul created makeshift drum kits by shoving discarded steel rods into the ground and attaching old cooking-oil tin cans. His drumsticks were made from branches of a nearby orange tree.
The lack of resources combined with Cuba’s rich, musical environment was truly of great benefit to Raul. The teachings of the rumberos that gathered to play in the streets, blending with a constant refrain of Cuban music that echoed throughout the streets of Old Havana, served to develop a deep sense of rhythmic creativity in him – a quality still very evident in his playing.
At the request of his late grandfather, the musician Nefer Miguel Milanés, Raul went on to study classical percussion for several years. The combination of applied, modern technique and the complex nature of Afro Cuban music was instrumental in shaping Raul’s unique sound.
By 19 years of age, Raul’s reputation for speed, accuracy, imagination and technique landed him an offer to join Sintesis, one of Cuba’s most popular bands at the time. A progressive world-music group, Sintesis fused Afro Cuban rhythms with rock, jazz and Yoruban chants. For the next 6 years, Raul recorded both drum kit and batá drums on numerous albums, providing him a platform to develop valuable musical concepts. With Sintesis, Raul performed at Festival Internacionál Jazz Plaza de La Habana, Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz a Vienne, Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Pori Jazz, Festival de Las Artes, Festival Internacionál de Bahia, and many others. At 25, Raul was featured in a world-renowned educational video entitled, The Drumset Artists of Cuba which contributing to his rising popularity among drummers around the globe.
After seeing Raul perform at the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland, Chucho Valdés – one of Cuba’s most legendary jazz pianists – asked Raul to play on his first post-Irakere project, the Grammy-nominated album Belé Belé in Havana. As a result of the album’s success, Valdés recruited Raul to join the Chucho Valdes Quartet. This was followed by a Latin Jazz All-Star tour in Europe, alongside Michel Camilo, Giovanni Hidalgo, Claudio Roditti, Juan Pablo Torres, Roberto Vizcaino, Irvin Acao and Mayra Caridad Valdés. The quartet’s second album, Briyumba Palo Congo, was also nominated for a Grammy in 1999. And in 2000, Chucho Valdés Quartet – Live at the Village Vanguard, won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance.
In 2008, Raul co-produced, co-arranged and played on Encuentro, a brilliant debut album with the Afro Cuban Latin Jazz Project, featuring saxophonist Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Raul continues to tour, record and perform with a wide array of world, jazz, latin and pop artists – continuing his amazing journey from humble beginnings as a boy on a tin can drum set to one of Cuba’s most prolific and versatile drummers.
Raul currently endorses DW drums, SABIAN cymbals, Gon Bops percussion, Regal Tip drumsticks, Remo heads and Audix microphones.
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