Frank Villafane

Frank Villafane

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Latin - Jazz | Eatontown, New Jersey, United States
Total Song Plays: 3,408   
Member Since: 2006
   Last Login: over 30 days ago

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Frank Villafane

Frank Villafane is a Latin-Jazz pianist, composer and arranger. He plays piano "con clave" in the styles of Eddie Palmieri, Peruchin and Sergio Mendes. Born in Bremerhaven, Germany, son of Mike and Elfriede Villafane, Frank grew up all over the United States and Europe, and experienced multi-culturalism first-hand. Musically, as in life, Frank's upbringing was fairly eclectic, being exposed to Latin, Jazz, Calypso, Folk, and the Classics early on. He began piano lessons in earnest at the tender age of 8. This interest in music was sustained throughout the moves over two continents during his formative years.

At twelve, Frank moved to Puerto Rico, and was quickly exposed to that infectious music known as "Salsa". But it was Frank's 7th grade music teacher which provided the impetus fueling his musical direction; he heard an original copy of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" played by Scott Joplin himself, and was forever changed. Moving back to the States, at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, Frank quickly acquired and studied the musical form, Ragtime, and earned his first paying "gig" as a professional musician at the age of 14, when he performed many Ragtime favorites by Scott Joplin and other Ragtime greats, for the WAFB Officers Club at a Roaring 20's theme party. Meanwhile, Frank's father continued his influence by encouraging him to listen and emulate several great Latin pianists, notably Sergio Mendes (of Brasil 66 fame) and the Cuban legend Pedro Justiz "Peruchin".

In college, at Rutgers University, Frank began playing piano for a number of Jazz & Latin "conjunto" style bands and orchestras, while studying piano with no less than the great Kenny Barron. He was immersed in theory and keyboard harmony classes at Rutgers and studied at the feet of Walter Bishop Jr, Ted Dunbar, Frank Foster, and Larry Ridley.

Later, Frank formed Jazz Y Clave, an 8 piece conjunto. Performing his own arrangements of many Jazz standards, Jazz Y Clave soon became a staple at New Brunswick's number one hot-spot, Nova Terra. This continued for five years, during which time Jazz Y Clave performed at many venues throughout New York and New Jersey, including appearing at the prestigious Red Bank Riverfest Jazz Festival in 2001 (and again in 2005), and opening for no less than Eddie Palmieri at the Expo Theater at Fort Monmouth (and again at Red Bank in 2005).

Frank is currently performing with a number of Salsa and Latin-Jazz ensembles, and in between gigs finds time to compose and arrange on his software studio at home.