Latin Grammy award winning, Juan Diego Villalobos, has developed a varied career as a composer, arranger, and performer making him one of the most sought-after vibraphone players in New York. His album, Perspectiva (2017), is his first step towards reimagining jazz and Afro-Veneuelan music to create an unique new sonority based on their common roots.
Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Villalobos comes from a musical family that initiated him in Venezuelan folkloric music at really young age, and with whom he performed at different festivals around Mexico and Venezuela. In 2010, Juan Diego moved to Caracas to study at the Simon Bolivar Music Conservatory; at the same time he was part of the renowned Teresa Carreño Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and performed across Europe, Asia and the US as a classical percussionist, sharing the stage with Christian Vazquez and the acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
In 2014 he was selected among other fourteen Venezuelan musicians to participate at “ Lang Lang & Friends”, a concert held at the United Nations Headquarters in NY city, in celebration of the 69th anniversary of its founding with special guests such as Sting, Alec Baldwin and Lang Lang himself. Simultaneously, Villalobos developed his knowledge of jazz which allowed him to present his compositions and perform with several jazz artist from and across Venezuela and the United States.
Under the tutelage of Stefon Harris and Joe Locke, Villalobos obtained a full scholarship in 2018 to study jazz vibraphone at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music; learning from luminaries like Buster Williams, Kendrick Scott and Miguel Zenon. During this time he also starts appearing at distinguished New York venues including Dizzy’s Jazz Club, Harlem Stage, Smalls Jazz Club and Birdland, as a band lider and sideman, performing alongside Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill, Jeremy Pelt, Luis Perdomo, John Beasley, among others. This same year, Villalobos was awarded a Latin Grammy for his participation on the album Identidad by Venezuelan cuatro player Miguel Siso.
Villalobos’s second studio album will be released in 2023 and it will feature five original compositions which encompasses the raw sound of traditional Afro-Venezuelan percussion mixed with elements of jazz harmonies, highlighting the richness of the black culture in Venezuela.