Sylvia Cuenca


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Sylvia is an active drummer on the New York jazz scene who is contributing

outstanding performances in a variety of situations. She has had the honor of

sharing the bandstand with saxophone legend Joe Henderson for 4 years and

trumpet legend Clark Terry for 17 years. The Joe Henderson quartet toured

frequently in European countries Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium,

England, Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany and venues across the U.S. In

a trio setting she performed with Joe Henderson and Charlie Haden in 1989 and

with George Mraz in 1994. She performed with the Clark Terry Quintet and Big

Band at Village Vanguard, Birdland, Blue Note, Queen Elizabeth 2, Royal Viking,

S.S. Norway jazz cruises and clubs, concerts and festivals in the U.S, Europe,

the Caribbean and South America. While working with the Clark Terry quintet

she had the opportunity to perform with guest artists Al Grey, Red Holloway,

Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Marian McPartland, Dianne Reeves, Joe Williams

and Lou Donaldson to name a few.

Cuenca has also performed with such jazz luminaries as Billy Taylor, Frank

Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band, Houston Person, Etta Jones, Helen Merrill,

John Hicks, Valery Ponomarov, Lew Soloff, James Spaulding, Kenny Barron, Ray

Drummond, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, George Cables, Hilton Ruiz, Jon

Faddis, Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz, Kenny Drew Jr., Emily Remler, Richie

Cole, Dave Stryker, Jessie Davis, Ralph Bowen, Vincent Herring, Paul

Bollenback, Geoffrey Keezer, Mark Whitfield, Ralph Moore, Catherine Russell,

Dianne Reeves, Dianne Schuur, Lew Tabackin, the European based Vienna Art

Orchestra and many others. She also performed in a live taping of Black Girls

Rock concert in NYC with pop star Alicia Keys. In 2015 she performed at Dizzy’s

Jazz at Lincoln Center with Albert “Tootie” Heath’s 4 drum set group called “The

Whole Drum Truth” which also included drummers Louis Hayes and Joe Saylor.

This same group performed to enthusiastic audiences at the Kennedy Center in

Washington, D.C. in 2016.

She was a guest clinician at the Sisters in Jazz Program at the IAJE Convention

in NYC and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in

Washington D.C. Cuenca has been a longtime faculty member at the Jazz for

Teens and Pre-Teen Program at NJPAC and the Stanford Jazz Workshop in

California. She was an artist-in-residence at various universities in the U.S. and

Europe with the Clark Terry quintet, Eddie Henderson quartet and as a leader

with her own groups. In 2014 she received a B.A. degree in Jazz Performance

from Empire State University in NYC.

In 1988 and 1991 Cuenca received jazz performance grants from the National

Endowment for the Arts and in 1992 she was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious

Monk International Drum Competition.

She has studied with jazz master drummers Adam Nussbaum, Victor Lewis,

Keith Copeland and Brazilian drummer Portinho. Sylvia endorses Zildjian

Cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and brushes and Remo Drumheads exclusively. She

currently resides in New York City.

Career Highlights:

* 2013 Drum Instructor/Clinician Xinghai International Jazz Festival and

Education Forum in Guangzhou, China

* 2012 Kevin Mahogany Group at Capetown Jazz Festival in South Africa

* 2012 Performed as leader at the JusJazz International Jazz Festival in India

* Chicago Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jon Faddis

* 2005 Guest Director of Sisters of Jazz Program at Kennedy Center for the

Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C.

* Track from “EXIT 13” CD used in episode of HBO’s “Sex in the City”

* Interview in Latina Style Magazine

* Critical acclaim from major publications for both of her independent releases

“The Crossing” and “EXIT 13”

* Tour of Korea and Japan with Kenny Barron, Ray Drummond and Michael


* Sylvia Cuenca Group at 45th Monterey Jazz Festival in 2002

* Featured on Billy Taylor’s “Up and Coming Artists” on CBS Morning Show

* 2000 & 2015 Sylvia Cuenca Group at Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival

at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts