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ELMER FERRER

"The Crossroads of Havana"

 

In a country with a reputation for great music, Cuban guitarist Elmer Ferrer is one of his country's biggest and brightest musicians.  Since graduating from Cuba's National Arts School in 1992, Elmer, 33, has established a solid career writing, arranging, producing, and performing both live and in studio, and he is recognized by many of his fellow musicians as the best electric guitarist on the Island. Elmer is the leader of the Elmer Ferrer Band (EFB), known for wowing the crowds with blues rock sprinkled liberally with Cuban jazz.

 

ELMER'S EARLY YEARS - A little background: Elmer Ferrer comes from the small city of Sancti Spíritus where he was born to a musical mother, who, along with Elmer's Dad, have always supported their children's musical bent  (Elmer's brother and sister have also become professional musicians). In Cuba, the education system streams children into specific areas of study at a young age, so at age 12, Elmer entered the town's Elementary School of Music to study classical guitar.  His parents bought him his first guitar at a consignment shop when he was nine years old.

 

ELMER DISCOVERS THE BLUES - Elmer's aptitude for the guitar was evident early, and at 16 he was accepted into the prestigious National School of Arts in Havana (ENA) to study classical guitar with Cuba's best music teachers.  However, as is often the case for a 16 year old, things change.  During his first year in Havana, Elmer saw the 1986 classic blues guitar movie "Crossroads" in which a talented classical guitar student studying at The Julliard School wants to become a bluesman. The movie opened the young Cuban's eyes to a new world of possibilities, and from that moment on, all he wanted to do was play blues on an electric guitar.  All that 16 year old Elmer Ferrer wanted was to be like Steve Vai; he believed it was his destiny to be an Electric Blues Guitarist.

 

The problem was, that back then, there was no school in Cuba for electric guitar, an instrument more traditionally used for rock - a music genre not popular in Cuba at the time.  So, Elmer continued to study classical guitar at school, while devoting every free moment to learning the electric guitar and listening to cassettes of guitarists John Scofield, Pat Metheny and Robben Ford that were shared between students and teachers.

 

TEACHING IN HAVANA - After eight years of formal classical guitar training, Elmer graduated at age 20.  A year later, ENA opened a "Department of Electric Guitar," and invited master guitarist Elmer Ferrer to be on the faculty.

 

After graduating, Elmer was to have returned to Sancti Spíritus because he didn't have government permission to live in Havana.  But, in an odd bureaucratic occurrence although Elmer had been asked to teach in the new department in Havana, he actually had no right or place to live in the capital. Others may have returned home, but this wasn't something that Elmer would even consider. So, he lived secretly in his brother's ENA dorm room on the fourth floor - keeping his bedroll hidden during the day in the ceiling tiles. To avoid detection, he rose early in the morning to scale down the outside wall.  His brother even shared his meager food supply, as Elmer had no status to qualify for a food ration.  Unbeknownst to Elmer, having to live like this for two years was part of his education in becoming a Bluesman.

 

A CAREER IN MOTION - Besides his beloved blues rock, Elmer has performed a number of other genres with countless artists such as: Trova with Santiago Feliú, Carlos Varela, and Silvio Rodríguez; Cuban Jazz with Chucho Valdés and Ernán López-Nussa; timba with Los Van Van and Orlando "Maraca" Valle, and rap with Telmary Díaz and Yusa.

 

ELMER'S CAREER AT A GLANCE

 

Bands:

- 2004 - present. Elmer Ferrer Band.

- 2005 - present. Interactivo.

- 2000 - 2005. Habana Ensemble.

- 1997 - 2000. Temperamento.

- 1992 -1997. Estado de Ánimo.

- 1991.  Anabel López Group.

 

CDs:

- "Fango Dance." Elmer Ferrer Band (Johnston Records, 2005).

- "Metrópoli." Elmer Ferrer (Unicornio, 2002).

 

Performance on Movie Soundtracks:

- "El Benny." Jorge Luis Sánchez, Director (Cuba 2006).

- "Habana Blues." Benito Zambrana, Director (Cuba-Spain 2006).

- "Música cubana: los hijos de Cuba." German Kral, Director (2004).

 

Production of other artists:

- Production and arrangements for CD "En la luna de Valencia" by Diego Gutiérrez (Unicornio, 2006).

- Production for the debut CD "Mi generación" by Tesis de Menta (Egrem, 2006).

- Production and arrangements for CD "Rochy," by Rochy (Bis Music, 2001).

 

Studio work:

- "Mayra Caridad." Mayra Caridad Valdés (Colibrí, 2006).

- "Érase que se era." Silvio Rodríguez (Unicornio, 2006).

- "A Diario." Telmary Díaz (Bis Music, 2006).

- "Safe and Unsound." Sarah Deluca (2006).

- "Soy yo." Orlando Valle "Maraca" (Ahí-Nama Records, 2005).

- "Goza pepillo." Interactivo (BIS Music, 2005).

- "Chapeando." Juan Formell y los Van Van (Unicornio, 2004).

- "Sax Soul." Germán Velasco (Colibrí, 2004).

- "Breathe." Yusa (TUMI Music, 2004).

- "Bossa Cubana." Sexto Sentido & the King of Bossa Nova Joao Donato (Elephant Records, 2004).

- "Juglar." Amaury Pérez (Unicornio, 2004).

- "Brain Storm." Havana Sax (Egrem, 2003).

- "Sin Julieta." Santiago Feliú (Unicornio, 2002).

- "Sentimiento." Francis del Río (Velas, 2002).

- "Sé feliz." Descemer Bueno (2002.

- "Yusa." Yusa (TUMI Music, 2002).

- "Entre otros." Noel Nicola & Santiago Feliú (Unicornio, 2002).

- "Todo Incluído." Habana Ensemble (Latin World, 2001).

- "New pa´que vea." El Chispa y sus cómplices (Cuba Cherever Musik Productions, 2001).

- "Elengó." Roberto Fonseca (Egrem, 2000).

- "Mundo Real." X Alfonso (Velas, 2000).

- "Futuro Inmediato." Santiago Feliú  (BIS Music, 2000).

- "Invitation." Roberto Carcassés (Velas, 2000).

- "Fetecún." Ramsés Rodríguez Baralt (Tamarindo Records, 1999).

- "Mundo loco." David Álvarez y Juego de Manos  (TUMI Music, (1999).

- "Aires de Habana." Selma Reys  (Velas, 1999).

- "24 horas." Habana Abierta (BMG-Ariola, 1998).

- "Tiene que ver." Roberto Fonseca (Egrem, 1998).

- "Jazz Timbero." Bobby Carcassés (TUMI Music, 1998).

- "Enclave." Columna B (Mas i Mas Records, 1998).

- "Trampas del Tiempo." Pável y Gema (Nubenegra, 1994).

- "Náuseas de fin de siglo." Santiago Feliú (LAGASH, 1994).

 

DVDs:

- Guest artist, Juan Formell and los Van Van DVD recorded June 17, 2006 (in post production) (Unicornio, 2006).

- Special appearance, "Soy Yo" video by Maraca (Ahí-Nama Records, 2006).

- One of three musicians featured in DVD "Jazz Cuba Today" (Unicornio, 2006).

- Live shows and rehearsals filmed in Havana and Tokyo for film "Música cubana: los hijos de Cuba." German Kral, Director (2004).

 

Prizes:

- "Jazz Cuba Today." Winner of Best DVD Award, 2006 Cubadisco International Fair (Unicornio, 2006).

- "Metrópoli." Winner of Best New Album Award, 2003 Cubadisco International Fair. Also nominated as Best Jazz Album (Unicornio, 2002).

 

Tours:

- 2007. Canada (Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, BC) and Australia with EFB

- 2006. Canada (Ontario and Quebec), EFB.

- 2003. Ecuador and México with Santiago Feliú.

- 2002. Chile and México with Santiago Feliú.

- 2001. Argentina and Ecuador with Santiago Feliú.

- 2000. Argentina and Bolivia with Santiago Feliú.

- 1999. Spain with Santiago Feliú.

- 1998. Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay with Santiago Feliú.

- 1997. Spain with Santiago Feliú.

- 1996. Germany with Estado de Ánimo.

- 1995. Argentina with Santiago Feliú.

- 1994. Argentina and Spain with Estado de Ánimo and Santiago Feliú.

 

Education:

- 1994. Diploma, Electric Guitar, National School of Arts (ENA), Havana.

- 1992. Diploma, Instrumentalist (Classic Guitar), National School of Arts (ENA).

- 1989. Graduated, Elementary School of Music, "Ernesto Lecuona," Sancti Spíritus.

 

Teaching:

- 1994 - 1995. Instructor, Guitar and Group Performance (Electric Guitar), ENA.

 


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