Composer, arranger, conductor, keyboardist and music educator. He began his piano studies at the age of 8, learning “The First Loss” (“Erster Verlust”) by Robert Schumann. Such initiation prompted him to seek after a tragic sense in music. This he has accomplished sometimes, while others he has achieved the opposite, attaining not quite as desirable humorous results.
He bears the nickname “Pollo” since the age of 13, and still holds ambivalent feelings towards it.
He has had the good fortune of having great teachers, starting with his own family. In the academic field, he has received a Summa Cum Laude Diploma in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music de Boston and a Master of Arts degree in composition from New York University (NYU), having pursued this graduate study under the auspices of a Fullbright scholarship.
He has led various influential groups in the Argentinean contemporary popular music scene, such as El Güevo (“The Egg”) in the 80’s and Monos con Navajas (“Monkeys with Knives”, co-led with bassist Willy González) in the 90’s, which was commended by the Konex foundation as one of the top five jazz ensembles in the decade spanning 1985-1995.
Simultaneously, he has worked as an arranger, keyboardist and/or musical director for some of the most outstanding representatives of the last five decades of Argentinean rock music: Vox Dei, Moris (1960’s), Miguel Cantilo, León Gieco, Nito Mestre, Roque Narvaja (1970’s), Juan Carlos Baglietto, Soda Stereo, Fontova, Sueter, Celeste Carballo (1980’s), Manuel Wirzt, Los Piojos, Divididos, Fito Páez, Ratones Paranoicos (the 90’s), Ciro y los Persas, Los Gardelitos and El Bordo (2000’s).
Since 1990, he has been carrying out extensive teaching activities in the areas of arranging, composition, keyboards and ensemble workshops, making idle efforts not to arouse in his students his own obsessions. He is currently teacher at the Escuela de Música Contemporánea (EMC) in Buenos Aires, professor at the NYU in Buenos Aires study abroad program, and director of the St. Andrew’s School Former Pupils’ Club Band.
He is devoted to writing his own music and organizing ensembles for its recording and public performance. At this moment, he is leading his quintet “Raffo” in presenting his CD, “Diatónicos Anónimos / Música de Flores, Vol. 2”, and giving solo piano recitals performing his original compositions.
Master of Arts in composition. New York University, New York City, USA.
Graduate study realized upon receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1998. Composition studies with Jim McNeely, Marc Consoli, Mike Holober and Justin Dello Joio.
Diploma with a Major in Jazz Composition. Summa Cum Laude. Berklee College of Music, USA.
Under-graduate study carried out upon obtaining a scholarship at the Berklee Summer School in Buenos Aires in 1987. Composition studies with Ken Pullig, arranging with Herb Pomeroy, piano with Ray Santisi and improvisation with Ed Tomassi and Gary Burton.
Extensive extracurricular activity as a writer for some of the most outstanding ensembles in Berklee: the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra (directed by Herb Pomeroy), the Rainbow Band (directed by Phil Wilson) and the Brian Lewis Big Band.
Private lessons in classical composition with Enrique Cipolla and in jazz composition and arranging with Juan Carlos Cirigliano.
Conservatorio Municipal de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires “Manuel de Falla”, first upper level. Piano studies with Roberto Brando, choir practice with Violeta De Gainza and ensemble lessons with Sebastián Piana.
Escuela de Música del Colegio Ward, directed by Rubén Urcola. Playing Alto saxophone in the concert band and piano in the jazz combo.
Private piano lessons with Lilia Le Bas.
Juan Pollo Raffo website