Born in the municipality of Rio Piedras in 1996, guitarist, composer, bandleader Richard Peña is part of a new breed of Latinx “jazzistas” whose style and sound transcend convention.
He is a graduate of Puerto Rico’s Escuela Libre de Musica and Puerto Rico’s Conservatory of Music. Also, he participated in The Berklee High School Jazz Festival (2015 edition, award winner in S3 category) and numerous events throughout the island, the U.S., and the Dominican Republic.
In October 2018, Pena released his first album as a leader titled, Hey, Don Rey. The album presents a powerful view of the Latin side of jazz guitar. Also, it is, “an astonishing blend of the traditional sounds of Latin music, the modern colors of post-bop/fusion jazz. Peña delivers a refreshing pallet of melodic and harmonic ideas that renews the role of the guitar in the tradition of Latin Jazz.”
In September 2019, Peña, the bassist Elias Santos and the drummer Hector Matos fused the late (guitarist) Joe Pass’s sound with traditional Puerto Rican music and created the Borinqueneers Jazz Trio and the award-winning album Aguinaldo Jibaro. The concept focuses on revitalizing traditional Puerto Rican melodies through the harmonic and rhythmic pallet of jazz. Also, employing improvisation to push the music to new heights while maintaining folkloric music’s rhythms.
2020 marked the release of Peña’s fourth album as a leader, titled Pandemik, with support from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP). Thanks to the sponsorship of the National Endowment for the Arts, Peña, Giovanny Rodríguez, Jesús Colón, and William García were able to unite their talents to create and perform original compositions based on their experiences during the pandemic.
With a fusion of genres that include jazz, rock, pop, and avant-garde music, Peña presents the emerging artists share their souls and stories with the world in a unified, single voice of empathy, encouragement, and hope.
“We want to make this musical gift to the Puerto Rican people and the rest of the world. Our desire is to get a smile from them, a leap of happiness, a moment of reflection that encourages positive changes; we want to give you a piece of us,” Peña stated. Pandemik can be enjoyed free of charge through Peña’s YouTube and Spotify pages.
Pena has performed with Charlie Sepúlveda, Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Ramón Vázquez, Yissy García, Ricardo Pons, Fernando García, Edgard Abraham, Guy Frómata, Julio Alvarado, Juan Guillermo Aguilar, Gonchi Sifre, Fidel Morales, Pedro Guzman, Jose Ortiz, Efraín Martínez, Elías Santos Celpa, Gabriel Rodriguez, Sammy Morales, Hector Matos, Jose Oquendo, Edmar Colón, Orlando Laureano, Latin singers Carlos Vives, Victor Manuelle, and Tito el Bambino. Also, he participated in the Guess Who Jazz Quartet’s award-winning album titled, Ready for Departure.
When he’s not touring, Peña performs on Monday’s Joe Pass Tribute and Tuesday’s at Don Rey Cigar at the Placita de Santurce (Puerto Rico) with his 4tet. His music is a breath of fresh air and indicative of a new wave of Puerto Rican artists whose music knows no boundaries.
Artist Website http://richardpenamusic.com
© 2020 Tomas Pena
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED