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Frank Colón Cusa

Frank Colón is a specialist in Latin-Caribbean, Brazilian and Asian percussion instruments including congas, bongos, timbales, bata drums, shekere, cuica, berimbau, and tabla drums, among others.

He was born in Georgetown, Washington, D.C, and raised in Puerto Rico from between the ages of 7 to 18 years old. He started his musical journey at a very early age, studying piano with the Figueroa family, Puerto Rico's internationally acclaimed classical music family. In high school he actively participated in various sports (winning regional and national medals in track and basketball!), theatrical arts and school newspapers. In San Juan, he acted in the play "The King and I" with Oscar-winning actor Raul Julia.
Graduating high school, he went back to Washington, D.C. to study Political Science at The American University. During that time, he did extensive personal research in ethnomusicology.

Mr. Colón began his musical career with a five-year stint in Julito Collazo's (a legendary Cuban musician) New York Afro-Cuban drum ensemble. On the city's jazz scene, he worked with swinging bassist Walter Booker (Sara Vaughan's favorite bassist), pianist John Hicks, saxophonist Charles Davis, the well known Cuban pianist/composer Marco Rizo, a gifted composer/trumpeter Tex Allen (Debbie Allen and Phyllicia Rashas brother), Chet Baker, Jaco Pastorious, Michel Camilo and African master percussionist Babatunde Olatunji. He went on to perform and record with Gato Barbieri, Harry Belafonte, Weather Report, Tania Maria, Flora Purim and his good friend, the amazing Brazilian drummer and percussionist Airto Moreira.
Frank went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to meet his in-laws and became an instant hot commodity down south. On a record session with the well-known Brazilian vocal band called MPB4, he introduced the Afro-Caribbean shekere into Brazilian music. Since then, this instrument has become essential to the instrumental arsenal of every modern contemporary percussionist!

During three years in Milton Nascimento's band, Mr. Colón toured all over Europe and Brazil, and recorded various albums. At the Montreaux Music Festival in Switzerland, he recorded two "Live" masterpieces, one with Wagner Tizo's band and other with Milton Nascimento's band. In Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Colón also performed and/or recorded with Gilberto Gil, João Bosco, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Ney Matogrosso, Elba Ramalho, Marina, RPM and his friend Robertinho Silva, one of the greatest drummers in Brazil. Frank also took part in the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Brazilian classical composer, Heitor Villa Lobos, touring all of the state capitals in Brazil.

The Manhattan Transfer called Frank in Brazil and brought him back to the USA. They subsequently toured and performed together all over the world for 12 straight years, during which time he recorded three. As a sideman with the Manhattan Transfer, he collaborated with his creative sound for a few of their Grammy awards and was voted as one of the top three "Most Influential Percussionist of the Year" by the readers of Modern Drummer Magazine! During this time and since then, he has performed and/or recorded with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Harry Belafonte, George Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Ernie Watts, Paquito D'Rivera, Dave Valentin Jon Lucien, Gal Costa, Larry Coryell, Billy Taylor, Azymuth, Dianne Reeves, Michel Camilo, Nestor Torres, Felix Cavalieri, Airto and the "Grateful Dead" drummer Mickey Hart.

Mr. Colón lately has been touring and recording with Gato Barbieri, Michael Wolff's "Impure Thoughts" band, and the Mexican pop singer Thalia, as well as with the great tabla master, Samir Chatterjee's World Music Ensemble. In October of 2003, Frank performed at the Kennedy Center as a special guest of the Adam Klipple Quartet. From there, they immediately embarked on a "Jazz Ambassadors World Peace Tour" of Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. That tour went so well that Frank and Adam were offered another tour of the same region this year! As a "kick-off" to this tour, Frank took his own band to The Kennedy Center for two "sold-out" performances!

Frank has also performed extensively on film soundtrack projects written and produced by Italian-American composer/violinist Michael Galasso. He also appears in the recent musical documentary movie "Calle 54", directed by Oscar-winner Fernando Trueba, in the recent DVD film release by Gato Barbieri ("Live at the Latin Quarter"), as well as in numerous television specials with the Manhattan Transfer, Harry Belafonte, Tania Maria, Milton Nascimento, Michael Wolff, Flora Purim, Ray Anderson, and others.

His two albums as a leader are: "Frank Colón -Live at Vartanjazz" and "Latin Wonder", both of which received very good critical reviews.

Besides show performances, Frank has been conducting percussion clinics and workshops all over the world. His workshops not only explain and demonstrate the technical aspects of drumming but also emphasize the possibilities of extending communication and cultural exchange between all people by means of making music.

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