Sep 29, 2022, 13:53 PM
Ruben P Alvarez, a Latin percussionist, drum set artist, composer, and educator, died on Sept. 25, 2022 from complications from an incurable respiratory condition.
Born on Nov. 20, 1951 Rubén was first introduced to Latin percussion by playing drums in Puerto Rican street "descargas" in the 1960s on the streets of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He went on to amass significant credits as a musician and educator, including playing on movie soundtracks, radio and television jingles, and performances and recordings with Junior Wells, John Mayall, Dennis DeYoung, Dave Valentine, Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Palmieri, Anita Baker, The Commodores, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Guitarra Azul, Chuchito Valdes, Ramsey Lewis, Patricia Barber, Grazyna Auguscik George Freeman, Slide Hampton, Laurel Massé, Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. He regularly performed with Chicago’s premier Latin jazz ensemble Chevere, Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and he was leader and musical director of El Trio Tropical, the @Raices Profundas Latin Music Ensemble, and his own company, Astro Latino Productions. He was a 2013 Latin Grammy nominee for his work on the Chuchito Valdés CD Made in Chicago. In musical theatre he was a percussionist and musical consultant for the Goodman Theatre Production of Crowns and the Broadway Chicago run of The Lion King.
As an educator, he was on the faculty at Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, Prairie State College, Roosevelt University, Urban Gateways, the Center for Arts in Education, the Ravinia Festival's “Jazz Mentors” program, Bands of America, the International Association of Jazz Educators artist outreach, Teacher Training Institute programs, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Armonía Community outreach program, and the Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazz Links residency program. He led clinics, master classes, and performances at schools and music education conferences nationally and internationally. His educational articles were featured in DownBeat magazine, and he co-authored Rox Media’s Sheddin’ the Basics, Latin Jazz/Part One. He also served as a board member for the Jazz Education Network, a governor for the Recording Academy/Grammys Chicago Chapter, and vice-president for the Illinois Percussive Arts Society Chapter. He also served on the PAS World Percussion Committee.