Benjamin Lapidus

Cindy Seip

Benjamin Lapidus is a scholar, educator, composer, arranger, and Grammy-nominated musician. He leads the Latin jazz group Sonido Isleño (founded in 1996); has performed throughout North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean; and released five albums of original compositions. As a supporting musician, he has performed and recorded with artists including Andy and Jerry González; Buena Vista Social Club singers Ibrahim Ferrer, Pío Leyva, and Manuel “Puntilla” Alicea; and Rubén Blades. New York City has long been a hub for transnational Latin music; there is no other place in the Americas where such large numbers of musicians from throughout the Caribbean come together to create. In New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990 (University Press of Mississippi), Lapidus examines how collaborations among musicians, composers, dancers, instrument builders, and music teachers in the Big Apple set a standard for the study, creation, performance, and innovation of Latin music. Drawing on archival research, oral histories, interviews, and musicological analysis, he presents a sound grounded in tradition but enriched with classical music, jazz, and Spanish Caribbean folk music elements – while also demonstrating that in spite of suffering segregation and racism, for these musicians, music was always a unifying force.