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Genres You Will Love
Easy Listening: Love Songs Jazz: Smooth Jazz Moods: Featuring Guitar

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United States - United States Sell your music everywhere

Ian Villafana

Born in the island of Trinidad, West Indies the son of Malcolm and Carmen Villafana. I was exposed to music from birth mainly because of my dad the pianist who played a variety of styles, calypso, jazz, bossa novas, Latin American, reggae and American standards and my mom for her passion for music.
While Trinidad was still a British colony, I grew up listening to lots of Beatles and Elton John music among many others. However, American music became a vital part of my developing style. As a teen I spent many hours playing James Brown funk music as well as many other emerging R&B artists. The turning point in my focus came after hearing George Benson’s On Broadway rendition. I then realized that there was a lot more than my funky rhythmic playing when it came to having something melodic to say. At that point I turned to the guitar books, studying chord progressions and scales. Having very little discipline towards my studies I experimented with the first few lessons of each chapter, not continuing as I should have as in a structured class.
Despite that setback, I found myself being surrounded with not only local accomplished pan virtuosos like Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharp, Anise ‘Halfers’ Hadeed and Earl Rodney but also very talented musicians in the island, many of them returning from Europe and the United States. Guys like Toby Tobias, Raf Robertson, and Clive Zanda were among the few that I learned invaluable musical knowledge from. At that point in my life, blending my native calypso with jazz was the perfect thing to do. It was not long after I was spending many hours in the recording studio working on albums with Lord Kitchener, Crazy, Blue Boy, Valentino, and many others. Working with Carl Henderson, Leston Paul, Robert Bailey, Carol Addison, Denise Plummer, Clive Bradley and David Boothman were just a few of the many that contributed to my musicianship. Thanks to the countless hours of creative playing and trading ideas at home with my good friends Ronald Reid, Ovid Alexis and Curtis Lewis. Live performances and concerts took up a lot of my time along with jazz television and radio shows. Felix Roach was very instrumental in getting me to discipline myself as an accompanying guitarist for jazz vocalist Patti Rogers.
After leaving Trinidad in 1981, my plan was to attend Berkley, a dream that never materialized. Instead I spent eight months in St. Croix, playing solo guitar at the Bucaneer hotel and holding down upright bass gigs with Jimmy Hamilton of Duke Ellington fame, playing straight jazz standards. It was around this time that I met Ed Cherry, and Dizzy Gillespie the day after their concert. Ed and I sat in his hotel room and traded guitar passages. To my surprise Dizzy walked in and invited me to have breakfast with them after. It was Ed, this extremely talented guitarist who introduced me to Joe Pass books and methods.
My hopes of attending Berkley slowly slipped away after moving to Louisiana, settling down and working in an industrial type job. Yet, I continued to study and play mostly R&B gigs when time permitted. Years later I met a saxophonist, Quintin Gerard W, who had just returned home after years of gigging with Jeff Lorber. He then asked me to do a few recordings on his second smooth jazz album. Thereafter we performed at the first Montgomery Jazz Festival, Al., Harrahs Casino, a jazz trio at the House of Blues, the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center and the the Tavern On the Lake in Orlando. It wasn’t long after when he persuaded me to get serious about recording my compositions, the album I now have to offer entitled ‘Epiphany’.