The Band

Alberto Nacif – Congas, Bongo

Alberto Nacif was born in the isthmus state of Oaxaca in Mexico’s west coast where Cuban derived rhythms were part of the everyday music . He began playing conga and bongo drums at a young age with local musicians.

He immigrated to Michigan as a teen, and became involved in the music scene by playing with Jimmy Stefanson’s “La Combinacion”. Originator and host of the Cuban Fantasy program on WEMU-FM for 10 years, Alberto honed his percussion skills with conga/bongo master Armando Peraza (of Santana fame). Alberto also studied Cuban percussion with Esteban Vega Bacallao “Cha-Cha”, Jesus Alfonso, Danilo Perez, of Los Munequitos De Matanzas, Tomas “Panga” Ramos of Cubanismo, and Manuel “Anga” Diaz, of Irakere. He has performed nationally and internationally with Dizzy Gillespie, John Faddis, Jane Bunnett, Munequitos de Matanzas, and Frank Emilio Flynn.

He led the Latin Jazz group “Cubop” in the early 1990’s, and has recorded with the Lunar Octet, Francisco Mora, Marcus Belgrave, Tumao, Tumbao Bravo. Nacif was also on the board of directors at U of M’s prestigious University Musical Society and was instrumental in hosting many Cuban music shows including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz. Albita, El Canario, Arturo Sandoval, Afro Cuban All Stars, Buena Vista Social Club, Ibrahim Ferrer, Cubanismo! and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. He co-directs a busy medical practice in Brighton, MI and composes music and plays regularly with Tumbao Bravo.

Paul Vornhagen – Flute, Piccolo, & Saxophones

Winner of three Detroit Music Awards for Best Jazz Reeds, Best Instrumentalist and TDWR, Paul has performed with his own jazz quartet for 25 years traveling to San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Hawaii and Paris, France. Paul has appeared on the Ed Love Program and Jazz Alive at WDET-FM. In February 2004, Paul visited Havana, Cuba where he performed as a guest artist with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, Cubanismo and Irakere at jazz clubs and also honored to perform at Ibrahim Ferrer’s 78th birthday party. Paul has also served as the Michigan horn section leader and baritone sax chair for the touring Tito Puente, Jr Band.

Jazz Festival credits for VornHagen’s quartet include the Montreaux Detroit Jazz Festival, Ann Arbor Jazz and Blues Fest, Birmingham Arts Fair, The Lansing Jazz Festival, and The Michigan Jazz Fest. Paul has released six critically acclaimed CDs. A dedicated private music instructor, Paul teaches 30 students per week and co-directs a Jazz camp each summer. Visit the website http://paulvornhagen.com

Dr Olman E. Piedra – Timbales/Congas/Cajon

olmanpiedraDr. Olman E Piedra received his DMA from Bowling Green State University. He also received two Master’s in Music degrees, in Percussion Performance and in Improvisation from the University of Michigan, and a BM from Baylor University. Dr. Piedra is an educational artist/clinician for Amedia cymbals, Meinl percussion, Remo drumheads and Innovative Percussion. He teaches percussion and drum set at the The University of Toledo. He has performed with the Sphinx Orchestra (principal percussion), the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Italian pop artist Patrizio Buanne, NOMO (toured around the United States, Canada, and Europe), Roland Vazquez‘ Latin Jazz Combo (Percussive Arts Society International Convention), vocalist Lauren Kinhan (from The New York Voices), Ken Thomson and Slow/fast, David Bixler’s I-75 ensemble, and the University of Toledo jazz faculty group at the third annual JEN convention in Louisville, KY. Olman has also been performing alongside Grammy Award winning artists The New York Voices at their vocal jazz camp since 2009. He can be heard on William Bolcom’s Grammy award winning album “Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience” with Leonard Slatkin, conductor, on His Name Is Alive’s “Detrola”, and “Sweet Earth Flower, a tribute to Marion Brown”, NOMO’s “New Tones”, “The Dreamer” by jazz guitarist/composer Paul Cohn, “Reaching for the Moon” with Morgen Stiegler, “Above the Sound” by pianist/guitarist Ariel Kasler, “Gran Danzón” with Martha Councell-Vargas, and with the University of Toledo Jazz Faculty ensemble CrossCurrents on their debut album on Summit records.

Check out Dr Olman Piedra’s website at http://olmanpiedra.com

Patrick Prouty – Electric Bass, Upright Bass, composer

Patrick Prouty is a veteran bassist/composer from Detroit, MI.

His previous side-man gigs have included playing with Bill Heid, Johnnie Bassett, Jan Krist, Al and Whit Hill, Alberta Adams and many other artists. From 2000 until 2007, he was the bassist for soul legend Bettye Lavette. During his tenure with Lavette he toured all over North America, Europe and Japan.

In 2007, Patrick received a master’s degree in improvisation from The University of Michigan. Patrick has won numerous awards including a Handy, multiple Detroit Music Awards and was the winner of the Block M Records New Music Award in 2006.

In October of 2007, Patrick released his first recording as a leader entitled The Charmed Life. It is a jazz quartet recording of all original Prouty compositions with an all-star cast of Detroit musicians. The Charmed Life won the 2008 Detroit Music Award for Best Jazz Recording.

Check out Pat’s website http://patrickprouty.com

Paul Finkbeiner – Trumpet/ Flugelhorn

finkbeinerGraduate of Western Michigan University as a Jazz Studies Major, Paul has performed all over the world on cruise ships,the Detroit Jazz Festival,  the Orange County Jazz Festival in L.A., Evergreen Jazz Festival in Colorado, the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and Symphonic Hall of Auditorio Nacional de Musica in Madrid, Spain. In addition to Tumbao Bravo, he has recorded with such stellar jazz artists as Paul Keller, Bess Bonnier, Jan Krist, Glenn Tucker, Paul Vornhagen and Phil Ogilvie’s Rythym Kings.  Paul is the Jazz Studies Director at the Ann Arbor Community Music School.

Brian DiBlassio – Piano

Brian DiBlassio is currently Associate Professor of Music at the University of Michigan – Flint where he was awarded the Rosen Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011. DiBlassio composes and arranges for symphonic, chamber, vocal and jazz ensembles. His work has been performed by the Flint Symphony Orchestra and aired on national television.

DiBlassio performs and records with the Afro-Cuban groups Tumbao Bravo, Los Gatos, and Nuevo Rumbón. He has had the honor of sharing the stage in brief appearances with Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Palmieri, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jon Hendrix, and Andy Narell. He has also given present ions at the 1 st International Clare Fischer Symposium in Graz, Austria as well at the Jazz Education Network Conference.

DiBlassio has previously been a faculty member of Bowling Green State University and the School Performing Arts – Ann Arbor where he founded the Downbeat award-winning SPA-AA Jazz Combo program. He has received degrees in Jazz/Music Media & Industry, and Improvisation from the University of Miami and the University of Michigan.

Pepe Espinosa – bongas, percussion, congas, timbales

Our newest member (March 2012), Pepe was born in Havana, Cuba in 1974 and began his musical studies at age 4 with his father “Pepin Drum” one of the best drummers in Cuba for his time. He then moved on to study at the Conservatory of Music in Havana and The Adolfo Guzman School. At the age of 12, Pepe launched his performing coareer as the bongo player for the famed Cuban conjunto group,”Conjunto Saratoga” Since that time he has performed worldwide with such top notch bands as the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Cubanismo, Jerry Gonzalez, Bamboleo, Arturo Sandoval and other latin greats. He appears on over 20 recordings including the grammy nominated “La Rumba Soy Yo” as well as Tumbao Bravo’s June 2012 release, “Casa Versailles” Pepe is a fine educator and serves as an official endorser of LP and VIC FIRTH Instruments.