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Sylvia Cuenca
Sylvia Cuenca
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Artist Biography

Everything you need to know in one spot.

  • Band/Affiliation: Clark Terry / Independent
  • Birthday: May 09
  • Country: United States

Sylvia Cuenca is an active young drummer on the New York jazz scene who is contributing outstanding performances in a variety of situations. Recently, she has been performing extensively with trumpet legend Clark Terry as part of his quintet. This group performs annually at the Village Vanguard and the Blue Note in New York City, on the Royal Caribbean and the S.S. Norway jazz cruises as well as many clubs, concerts and jazz festivals. In addition to working with Clark Terry, Ms. Cuenca has performed with artists such as trombonist Al Grey, saxophonists Red Halloway, Jimmy Heath and Frank Wess, to name a few.

Other achievements include several tours of Europe and the United States with saxophonist Joe Henderson. Since 1987, this quartet performed at the Taxi International Jazz Festival in Milano, Italy, the Brecon Jazz Festival in England, the Viersen Jazz Festival and the Burghausen Jazz Festival in Germany, as well as many concerts in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, England, Switzerland and France. In a trio setting, she performed with Joe Henderson and Charlie Haden in 1989 and also with Joe Henderson and George Mraz in 1994.

As a sideman, Ms. Cuenca has performed and toured with such jazz luminaries as Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz, Kenny Drew, Jr., John Hicks, George Cables, Marian McPartland, Jon Faddis, Frank Foster's Loud Minority Big Band, Ed Cherry, Bootsie Barnes Kenny Barron, Michael Brecker, Ray Drummond, Ralph Moore, Regina Carter, Richie Cole, Billy Taylor, James Spaulding, Emily Remler, Valery Ponomarov, Houston Person, Etta Jones, Helen Merrill, Dianne Reeves, Dave Stryker, Stan Getz, Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Vincent Herring, Jesse Davis, Mingus Big Band, The Boys Choir of Harlem and the European based Vienna Art Orchestra, as well as her recordings as a leader, The Crossing and Exit 13. She can be heard on recordings by Clark Terry, Ron McClure, Ted Curson and The Vienna Art Orchestra, among others. She has performed at festivals and jazz clubs from L.A. to D.C. As a leader, she performed recently with her own group at the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Most recently, she was a clinician for the Sisters in Jazz Program at the 2001 IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) in New York and the Jazz for Teens Program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She has taught and performed with the Clark Terry Quintet and the Eddie Henderson Quartet at various colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. She has been a staff member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in Stanford, California since 1985. She was also Artist-In Residence at the Clark Terry Institute of Jazz at Westmar University in Iowa.

In 1988 and 1991, Ms. Cuenca received jazz performance grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, and in 1992, she was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drum Competition.

Originally from San Jose, California, Sylvia Cuenca attended San Jose City College where she performed and recorded with the City College Big Band. Over the years, she has studied with Victor Lewis and Keith Copeland. She currently resides in New York City.

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