Cuban-born percussionist Pedrito Martinez is an acclaimed musician who plays a dynamic mix of traditional Cuban rumba, Afro-Latin jazz, and Spanish flamenco music. Born in Havana in 1973, Martinez began performing professionally before his teens with such local legends as percussionist Tata Güines, as well as the folkloric ensemble Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. In 1998, his involvement with saxophonist Jane Bunnett's Spirit of Havana ensemble found him traveling to Canada, where he remained. He quickly established himself as a world-class percussionist and even took first place in the inaugural Afro-Latin Hand Drumming portion of the 2000 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. Also in 2000, he has worked with such artists as Claudia Acuña, Mark Weinstein, Eliane Elias, Paquito d'Rivera, Steve Turre, Brian Lynch, and others. He has released two albums with the Afro-Cuban/Afro-beat band Yerba Buena. Martinez issued Rumba de la Isla solo and the self-titled Pedtrito Martinez Group albums in 2013. Both were widely acclaimed by critics. The latter, produced by Steve Gadd, made numerous publications' year-end lists, and was nominated for a Grammy.
After American president Barack Obama announced a normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, Martinez was enthusiastic to record in his homeland. Taking his band to the island nation, they collaborated with a wide variety of guests at the historic Egrem Studio in Havana. The session included Cuban singers Descemer Bueno and Issac Delgado, and rapper Telmary Diaz, as well as Ruben Blades, Wynton Marsalis, and Angelique Kidjo. Habana Dreams was released in June of 2016 and entered the Latin and Jazz digital charts inside the Top Five. ~ Matt Collar