Elio Villafranca
Elio Villafranca


Elio Villafranca & The Jass Syncopators

All-Star Afro-Caribbean Band

Pianist Elio Villafranca is much-in-demand these days with a new CD release (Caribbean Tinge-Motema Music), some very special dates at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a performance at the annual Jazz Journalists Awards ceremony. Hailing from Havana, Cuba, Elio is rooted in the tradition and rhythms of the Caribbean, yet fully embraces the elements of modern jazz. With his All-Star band, the Jass Syncopators, Villafranca is a

breath of fresh air on the current musical scene. Caribbean Tinge is his 7th album as a leader, and was recorded during two live performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City Percussion, brass and ivory keys set the stage for folkloric dance, Caribbean rhythms and 21st century jazz. Together, the music and dance integrate a new body of movement and syncopation within the performance of the eight original Villafranca compositions.


Since the beginning of jazz and Latin music, syncopation has been an important element in the rhythmic foundation and development of these musical genres. For Grammy nominee pianist and composer, Elio Villafranca, the concept of syncopation is intrinsic to his music. Elio was deeply inspired by Duke Ellington’s approach to music of the 1940’s, and is also proudly aware of his Cuban-Latin heritage. The Jass Syncopators is a

performance ensemble that challenges the boundaries of jazz by fusing it with the syncopated nature of Afro-Caribbean music, rhythms and dance– thus creating authentic cultural experiences. With this exotic combination, Elio Villafranca and The Jass Syncopators strive to create a multi-layered musical dialogue where intellectual understanding of the music is secondary to its full experience. 


“Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca is an inspired and visionary musician. With his band, The Jass Syncopators, Elio expands what Jelly Roll Morton called The Spanish Tinge to what Elio calls The Caribbean Tinge. The band swings hard and brings a traditional yet innovative style to the roots of jazz and Afro- Caribbean music. I am profoundly moved by Elio’s vision and musicianship. He is a treasured member of the family here at Jazz at Lincoln Center.”
– Wynton Marsalis

“Elio’s music is passionate. A brand new application of ancient ways.”
– Chick Corea

“Loaded, technically superior, sharp and romantic pianism…”
– JazzTimes Magazine (Javier Quiñones)

“… Villafranca emotes an expressive, emotional quality enhanced by his technically brilliant approach to the keyboard and his rhythmically complex original compositions..”
– Philadelphia Tribune (Steve Bryn)



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On Tour

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