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Chano Pozo: Changing the Narrative


Thursday April 13, 2023 | 6PM EST / In-Person event

The Hemispheric Institute cordially invites you to a panel/performance that will take as its point of departure the biographical work Chano Pozo: La vida (1915-1948) written by Rosa Marquetti, examining Chano Pozo’s imprint on both Cuban and North American cultures. The panel seeks to introduce a debate about the artist’s musical significance and legacy, as well as to bring attention to aspects of his life and work that have previously been ignored. Moving beyond the anecdotal narratives that have exalted his masculinity and religiosity, the panel will explore Chano Pozo’s artistic genius and his profound influence on jazz and Cuban popular music. To this end, Rosa Marquetti will be joined by distinguished musicians Román Díaz and David Virelles, as well as Professor Licia Fiol-Matta.

The event will be in Spanish. The video documentation will be subtitled in English and available on the website after the event.

This is a virtual and in-person event that requires registration.


Rosa Marquetti

Born in Alquízar, Havana, Cuba, Rosa Marquetti Torres received a degree in philology from the University of Havana. Her professional connection with Cuban music began in 1993 as an executive at the Pablo Milanés Foundation. The Pablo Milanés Foundation was the first private Afro-descendant institutional initiative in Cuban culture. Since then, Marquetti has grown in diverse domains such as the record industry; intellectual property; archives;al, production, consulting and musical supervision in films and documentaries; curatorship, and historiographic and musicographic research. Marquetti is the author of Chano Pozo: A Life (1915-1948); El Niño con su tres. Andrés Echevarría Callava, Niño Rivera; Desmemoriados. Histories of Cuban Music, and Celia in Cuba (1925-1960). She founded the blog Desmemoriados–Histories of Cuban music in 2014. Marquetti has also worked at Magic Music Records, the General Society of Authors and Editors of Spain, and the Gladys Palmera Collection. Her texts and research have been published in specialized and general journals and magazines in Cuba, Colombia, Spain, France, and the United States. She has given lectures at universities and cultural institutions in the United States, Cuba, and Spain. Rosa Marquetti was named 2022 Mellon Scholar in Residence at the Hemispheric Institute.

photo by Jose Silva
Photo by Jose Silva

David Virelles

New York–based pianist/composer David Virelles grew up in a musical family in Santiago de Cuba, steeped in the music of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora and Western classical music. Living in the United States since 2009, Virelles organically brings together Cuban folkloric and New York improvisational worlds. Besides his solo work, he has also performed and recorded with Bunnett, Henry Threadgill, Ravi Coltrane, Tomasz Stanko, Román Díaz, Milford Graves, Chris Potter, Tom Harrell, Terri Lyne Carrington, José Luis Quintana “Changuito", Chucho Valdés, among others. Virelles’ 2012 album Continuum ended up on many “Best of the Year” lists, being selected #1 by The New York Times. Virelles’ latest album is NUNA (El Tivoli Music/ Pi Recordings), an exploration of the solo piano setting. It was named one of the best albums of the year 2022 by different publications including The New York Times and NPR. It also won the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Award.


Román Díaz

Román Díaz is a master percussionist from Havana, Cuba, and a musician known for mentoring young musicians including Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Yosvany Terry; pianist and composer David Virelles; and Grammy-nominated percussionist Pedrito Martínez. Today Díaz – an important Olú Añá or “keeper of the sacred drum” – is considered a pillar of the New York City jazz avant-garde and one of Afro Cuban music’s great innovators. Upon his arrival to New York City in 1999, Díaz was cast in the film Calle 54 by Spanish director Fernando Trueba alongside legendary percussionists Orlando “Puntilla” Rios and Carlos “Patato” Valdez. The film documented the passing of the torch to Díaz and Pedrito Martínez as the filming marked the last time these four great artists would appear together. Only Díaz and Martínez could carry on the legacy of innovation rooted in tradition that has made New York City a vital locale in the history of Afro Cuban music. As a member of Cuba’s Rumba group Yoruba Andabo, Díaz aided in the creation of the sound that has defined rumba since the 1980s. Díaz has participated in notable projects by Jane Bunnett, Michele Rosewoman, Danilo Pérez, Omar Sosa, David Virelles and Henry Threadgill among others.


Licia Fiol-Matta

Licia Fiol-Matta grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. Prior to joining NYU, she taught at Barnard College and the City University of New York. Fiol-Matta writes on Latin American and Latinx literary and cultural studies, women’s and gender studies, and music. She is the author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral (Minnesota; translation Editorial Palinodia, September 2022) and The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music (Duke; translation Editorial Callejón, forthcoming). For The Great Woman Singer, Fiol-Matta received the 2020 Modern Languages Association US Latina and Latino and Chicano and Chicana Literary and Cultural Studies Prize; the 2018 Frank Bonilla Book Award from the Puerto Rican Studies Association; and an Honorable Mention, 2018 Woody Guthrie Award of the International Association for Popular Music Studies-US.

Center for Ballet and the Arts Studio
16 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003

Event Access

This is a virtual and in-person event that requires registration.

In-person attendance is open to NYU students, staff, and faculty who are compliant with NYU's COVID-19 vaccination policy, and to others who can show ID and proof of vaccination (2 shots + 1 booster required) at the door. All in-person attendees to the event must fill out the following form in advance, for contact tracing purposes.