Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator, known specifically for his work in the Latin music field. He has performed on thousands of records, co-produced and played on several instructional videos for Warner Bros. Publications, including ones by Talking Drums, Changuito, Giovanni hidalgo, and Ignacio Berroa, and produced seminal recordings in the Latin music genre, including Orquesta Batachanga, BataKetu with Mark Lamson, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Grupo Ilu-Ana and BataMbira.
He currently resides in San Francisco, California where he is an integral part of the Bay Area music scene. He records and produces with groups throughout the West Coast, and still tours world-wide with the percussion trio “Talking-Drums,” which he co-leads with David Garibaldi and Jesus Diaz. In June of 1996, his recoding with Mark Lamson, BataKetu was released to international critical acclaim, and was voted one of the top 50 drum records of all time by Drum Magazine, they debuted that material on the stage in 2002 with a performance grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in that same year he performed with his own group “Ara Meji” at the Monterey Jazz Festival, where he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Percussion. In 2004 he received a Grammy nomination for his work as both producer and artist on Mark Levine’s Latin/Jazz release “Isla.” In 2005 he released his maost recent recording “BataMbira” which is quickly received rave reviews, and was he was voted runner up as best percussionist in the jazz/fusion category in the 2005 Drum Magazine’s Reader’s Poll Awards.
Michael’s recording and performing credits include such diverse artists as David Byrne, Cachao, The Caribbean Jazz Project, Dori Caymmi, Changuito, Richard Egues, Frank Emilio Flynn, Ella Fitzgerald, David Garibaldi, Gilberto Gil, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Holman, Toninho Horta, Bobby Hutcherson, Dr. John, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Machete Ensemble, Bobby McFerrin, Andy Narell, Ray Obiedo, Chico O’Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, Lazaro Ros, David Rudder, Carlos Santana, Grace Slick, Omar Sosa, Talking Drums, Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner and Charilie Watts. In addition, he has recorded soundtracks to such major motion picutres as Soapdish, Henry and June, True stories, Sworn To The Drum, Walker, Eddie Macon’s Run, and Dragon-The Life of Bruce Lee, and wrote several arrangements for the Tony Award winning Broadway show BLAST! which was released on video by PBS in 2002
Michael’s books and recordings can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Cuban born percussionist Jesús Diaz has quietly and assuredly taken the Bay Area music by storm, and established a place in the world of Latin and Cuban style dance music. The rich musical diversity of the Bay Area, combined with the roots of Afro-Cuban music, has provided the opportunity to learn, experiment and arrive at the evolution of what QBA is today. Showcased in their CD releases, CARAMELO and JARDINERO, Jesús has assembled an incomparable orchestra of accomplished artists whose talents combine Funk, Jazz, Rumba, Son, and varied Afro-Cuban elements within the syncopation of modern expressions in Cuban dance music. This musical tradition is rooted in the firm belief in the importance of creating new and unique “signature” styles and sounds. The drive of the music is a direct function of remaining actively engaged with the dancers. Most recently, Jesús Díaz Y Su QBA have shared the stage along with renowned Cuban artists such as Issaac Delgadoand Manolin “El Medico de La Salsa”, demonstrating that original “Timba” is indeed alive and well here in the United States. QBA fuses modern and traditional elements of Afro-Cuban influences within dance music to create their unique sound.
Phil Hawkins is an accomplished jazz drummer and one of the leading innovators of music for the steelpan. As a percussionist and drummer he regularly travels throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America to perform concerts, teach clinics and study percussion.Originally from Topeka, Kansas, Phil completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music at Wichita State University where he remained as adjunct faculty, directing the Steelband and Latin Jazz Ensembles. In 1998, Phil moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he quickly gained a reputation as a versatile drummer. Phil currently plays with Latin Jazz legend Pete Escovedo, The Ray Obiedo Group and Mistura Fina.
Phil has produced two of his own recordings including “H2O,” (2005) and "Sugarcane Suite" (2010) which features Randy Brecker, Ray Obiedo, Trinidadian vocalist “Crazy,” the VW brothers, Michael Spiro, Edgardo Cambon, and Sanatana keyboardist David K. Mathews. “Sugarcane Suite” appeared on the World Music charts for 22 weeks reaching #8. It also appeared on the Roots Music Chart, the World Music Jazz Chart and the College Music Journal chart.
In 1993 he started his own publishing company, P. Note Music, to promote his original music. His catalogue is substantial and the list of schools that have performed his works include Ithaca College, University of Miami Ohio, University of Illinois, Wichita State University, Brigham Young, Clemson University and Northern Kentucky University to name a few. In addition to the thirty-one compositions for steelpan, Phil has also published several books including, “Caribbean Jazz Ensemble,” “Pan Rhythm,” and “Pan Combo v. 1.”