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Jesus Diaz collaborating with La Peña Cultural Center
Award: $35,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2003
Premiered: 2004

Jesus Diaz and La Peña Cultural Center collaborated with Cuban master musicians and dancers to create a new work exploring and celebrating the evolution of Cuban music. The project combined folkloric arrangements with contemporary compositions, demonstrating ways that contemporary jazz and timba draw from a range of folk traditions.

During the 1990s, many gifted Cuban musicians and ensembles settled in the Bay Area, joining gifted Cuban musicians who had lived in the region for a long time. Through his collaboration with La Pena, Jesus Diaz, a talented percussionist, singer, songwriter, bandleader and educator gathered these Cuban artists to collaborate for the first time.

The finished work was a full-length performance. Among Diaz’s collaborators were Carlos Aldama, Sandy Perez, Jose Francisco Barroso, Susan Arenas Pedroso, Raul Pineda, Gustavo Ramirez, and Rigoberto Lopez. Members of Jesus Diaz’s band, QBA, participated in the folkloric portions of the finished work and the entire band performed the contemporary compositions and arrangements with the guest artists.

Founded in 1975, La Peña Cultural Center promotes and presents nationally and internationally recognized artists whose works examine socially relevant themes and are deeply rooted in cultural traditions. It offers more than 200 artistic and educational programs each year.

Cuban born percussionist, bandleader, and composer Jesus Diaz arrived in the United States from Havana in 1980. He quickly chose the San Francisco Bay Area’s music scene for his new home. His local and international performances in collaboration with renowned artists are recognized for their contributions to Cuban music worldwide. Diaz is co-founder and co-owner of Bombo Music Productions, a member of the all-percussion group Talking Drums, and leader of the band QBA.