on February 24th, 1958, Vazquez grew up in the heart of North Philadelphia's
Puerto Rican community. After buying a $5 trombone from a friend's brother,
Vazquez joined his elementary school band. Later he was introduced to
the vibrant music and popular Latin dances of the 1950s and 1960s by
his family. Inspired by Latin trombonists such as Barry Rogers, Jose
Rodriguez and Willie Colon, Vazquez decided to become a professional
musician at the age of 13.
By the early 1970s Vazquez had moved to New York and was playing with
bands like Conjunto Libre and Hector Lavoe. Before long he was working
with top names in Latin music like the Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto,
Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Ruben Blades, Chucho Valdez and Tito Puente.
He even appeared on Willie Colon's landmark release "Siembre".
Vazquez has always been deeply moved by jazz and specifically cites
the music of John Coltrane and J. J. Johnson as having the most influence.
He studied Slide Hampton and later arranged and performed for Hampton's
"World of Trombones". Eventually, Vazquez would tour Europe
with the Ray Charles Orchestra and perform in New York with jazz luminaries
Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Woody Shaw, Mel Lewis, Pharoah Sanders,
Wynton Marsalis, Lonnie Smith and Lenny White. His involvement with
Hilton Ruiz, Dave Valentin and Jerry Gonzalez placed Vazquez as a key
player in the burgeoning Latin jazz genre.
In the 1980s Vazquez travelled the globe. He played with Batacumbele
in Puerto Rico from 1981 to 1986. Batacumbele were one of the most innovative
and popular Latin fusion bands of the time. He wrote for Orquesta Nacional
Jovenil de Puerto Rico. Later on he travelled as principal trombonist
for Tito Puente and toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations
Vazquez' ability to fuse Afro-Carribean rhythms, especially those from
Cuba and Puerto Rico, with freer melodic and harmonic elements of progressive
jazz has insured his popularity on many fronts. He played on Ruben Blades
award winning salsa albums, on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's "Mo'
Better Blues" and on "The Mambo Kings". Vazquez most
recent appearances in movie soundtracks includes a slot on the "Thomas
Crown Affair" with the Chico O'Farrell Orchestra. He also appears
on O'Farrells latest recording "Heart of an Angel" for Milestones
and Milton Cardonas new recording "Cambucha" on American Clave.
In the 1980s Vazquez took his bands to jazz festivals in New York, Puerto
Rico, Houston, and Philadelphia. He returned to Puerto Rico in early
1999 and was an integral part of the Dockers Khakis-sponsored Mambo
Madness tour which took place in the summer of 1999. The year 2000 sees
Papo making trips to South Africa for the North Sea Jazz Festival.