Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was born in the Pinar del Río province of Western Cuba and classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituo Superior de Arte in Havana. Since his arrival in the U.S. in late 1995, he has made an increasingly noteworthy career in the jazz and Latin jazz scenes on both the East and West Coasts.
He opens the 2016 Noon Series with his jazz trio, including Peter Slavlov on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums.
Elio Villafranca, an official Steinway Jazz Artist, is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable Cuban pianists, composers and bandleaders that for several years has been making major creative contributions to the international development of modern jazz. Born in the Pinar del Río province of Western Cuba, pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Since his arrival in the U.S. in late 1995, he has been involved in jazz and Latin jazz scenes on both the East and West Coasts. Based in New York City, he is resident professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.
In 2010, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year for his performance, composition and co-production in the album Things I Wanted To Do by Chembo Corniel.
Peter Slavov is a New York-based Bulgarian double bassist, composer, session musician, arranger and educator. Since he started performing professionally in the mid-1990’s, Peter has performed at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in more than 30 countries on 5 continents. Born to the family of legendary Bulgarian drummer Peter Slavov Sr., Peter (sometimes credited as Petar) has been playing bass since the age of twelve.
While studying classical music at the Pipkov Music School in Sofia, Peter discovered American jazz and soon became the busiest bassist on the scene in Bulgaria, playing with the country’s finest musicians and touring Europe extensively. In 1998 Peter received a scholarship from Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music, and in 1999 moved to Boston to attend Berklee. In 2001, he was awarded the Berklee Bass Department’s John Neves Memorial Scholarship Award for Outstanding Musicianship, as well as a full scholarship.
After graduating from Berklee in 2002, Peter Slavov has performed and/or recorded with world-renowned artists, such as: Joe Lovano, Quincy Jones, George Garzone, Danilo Perez, Sophie Milman, Kevin Mahogany, Simon Shaheen and Jamey Haddad, among many others. Peter is currently touring the world with Grammy award-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano’s Us Five band. In 2012, Us Five received the Award for Best Small Group by the Jazz Journalists Association of America.
FERENC NEMETH is an accomplished and versatile musician who continues to push the boundaries of jazz drumming and composition. Nemeth has since the early days of his career, been one of the most sought after drummers both, in his native Hungary as well as in the United States. Coming from a musical family, his unique dynamism and versatility was fostered from a very early age. An exciting performer and imaginative collaborator, Nemeth is well regarded for his work with the Lionel Loueke Trio and GilFeMa and has also travelled, performed and collaborated extensively as a bandleader, co-leader, sideman and educator as well as initiating creative projects of his own. Nemeth has also contributed to the Loueke-Biolcati-Nemeth cooperative.
From his early days at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Thelonius Monk Insitute of Jazz in Los Angeles, Nemeth has learned from and worked with the world’s finest jazz musicians and groups including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, the Billy Childs Trio, Bob Sheppard, Dave Carpenter, John Clayton, Jimmy Heath, The Henry Mancini Orchestra amongst others. Relocating to New York in 2003, Nemeth’s distinctive energy and drive saw his career continuing with many of the same musicians, and also expanding to include the likes of Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Lionel Loueke, John Abercrombie, Dave Samuels, Jonathan Kreisberg, John Ellis, Omer Avital, Ilayaraja, the Kenny Werner Coalition and most recently Dhafer Youssef.