Diego Ramirez: Jazz Pianist and Composer

BY: RICK CASTAGNER

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Diego Ramirez was born in 1973 in Mexico City, started piano lessons at age five and added the drums, saxophone and composing later.

Ramirez grew up in a very musically-talented family including his sister Musme and his brother Arturo. His sister is an accomplished concert pianist and opera singer in Mexico City and his brother is a very talented musician based in Los Cabos, Mexico.

His mother was a singer and his father played the guitar and also sang. Their families combined to produce a well-known and successful Family Band in Mexico City.

His mother and father had a long history of music in their families, including a very famous Mexican singer/violinist named Juan Reynoso. Reynoso was one of the greatest Mexican violinists or fiddlers from the hot lowlands (Tierra Caliente) of the State of Michoacan. He was a virtuoso, although he could not read music. Because of his incredible prowess on the violin, Reynoso was known as the Paganini of the Hotlands. While his style may rival the great Italian master’s, Reynoso was a folk artist. His music was not the court music for aristocrats, rather the music of the Mexican people.

Diego, in most of his music and compositions, is trying to capture the same theme, the music of the Mexican people.

Ramirez has many fond memories of the neighborhood where he grew up in Mexico City. He was surrounded by music with his family and the music of the neighborhood. He was destined to become the musician and composer he is today.

Ramirez studied music at Mexico City’s prestigious National Conservatory of Music for 10 years before finding jazz. His teachers included Maestra Irina Lieberman, Maestra Jose Luis Arcaraz, Guillermo Salvador, Christina de la Vega, Adrian Grand and Juan Millan. It was Maestra Irina Lieberman, from Czechoslovakia, who most influenced Herrera to develop his technique and musicality.

Ramirez’s music and composing are influenced by Mexican classical composers Silvestre Revueltas, Manuel M. Ponce and Carlos Chavez and by American musicians Miles Davis and Leonard Bernstein.

At 20, Ramirez first experienced jazz. He loved it and decided to become a jazz musician and composer. By age 21, he was already playing in his own group, The Diego Ramirez Trio. While playing in the Yucatan area (Cancun), Ramirez acquired a love for Mayan music, which is reflected in most of his musical compositions.

Ramirez released recordings featuring classic piano jazz, "Jazzonia" and "Ramirez Plays Legrand".

Ramirez’s last original composition was "El Ultimo Chilam Balam". It was named the Best Jazz Album by the LA Music Awards and featured many Mayan jazz pieces. This album was important because it portrayed the musical, historical and cultural expressions of his homeland of Mexico.

 “Solo Pianist Diego Ramirez played his U.S. debut (Portland Jazz Festival) and simply mesmerized the audience. His skill and composing abilities are exciting and extraordinary, and full of passion.” – Jazz USA online.

His recent original composition is entitled “Sketches of Mexico” and portrays the richness of Mexico’s culture.

Ramirez combines traditional jazz with Mexican melodies and rhythms, creating his own unique sound. Described as musical paintings of Mexico, the album is also a tribute to his homeland, Mexico.

This tribute album is currently nominated by the Independent Music Awards for Best Instrumental Jazz Album and Best Tribute Album. “Sketches of Mexico” was chosen out of hundreds of submittals from 119 countries. Ramirez has made significant musical and cultural contributions not only to Mexico but also to the world with his universal themes in the album.

Ramirez has played many Mexico jazz festivals and venues: Cancun, Portland Jazz, Zinco Jazz, Ligamac, San Jose Jazz, and Lifelux to name a few. He has done many international tours in the U.S. and Europe.

Diego Ramirez “demonstrated impeccable technique, a broad emotional and dynamic range, and an understanding of the jazz and Latin jazz tradition.” His performance “demonstrated Ramirez’s ability to traverse considerable territory, from a delicate touch to great power.” - John Kelman, from All About Jazz online.

He performs solo and with groups, and often with the fabulous vocalist Daline Jones, with whom he has several recordings. Their best venue over the years was Daline and Diego playing Sunday afternoon Jazz at Cerritos Beach. The venue is currently on hold but many of their fans are hoping this changes.

Ramirez is currently living with his family and children and performing in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico while creating and recording new compositions. Ramirez delights his audiences with a wide range of jazz: hot, cool, modern, traditional, standards, Latin, indigenous as well as great improvisational. He sings a great Louis Armstrong.

Ramirez loves to play his music for himself and his audience but he says he is also really starting to enjoy another area of his music, composing. He is also being recognized for his composing skills, as reflected by his current prestigious nomination by the Independent Music Awards for “Sketches of Mexico”.

Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. Ramirez loves to harness that power with music lovers and fellow musicians.

Ramirez has found great joy and satisfaction in playing and composing music and sharing it with fans and people all over the world.

To see Ramirez’s upcoming 2020 Los Cabos, and U.S. music venues, keep your eyes on his website or Facebook. www.diegoramirez.net/home.html and Facebook.com/diegoramirezjazz