Pablo Batista, a graduate of the Temple University class of 1985, has been a percussionist for over 31 years. In 2000, Pablo was the recipient of the distinguished Pew Fellowship Award in Folk Art. He also toured and recorded with the late Grover Washington, Jr., from 1985 until Grover’s passing in 1999.
Presently, Pablo is the percussionist for ” fill in later “. He has toured with five time Grammy recipient, Alicia Keys and performed with her live at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
He has been teaching percussion for the Latin American Music Association (AMLA) for over 15 years and has performed and recorded with such artist as: Bono, Jeffrey Osborne, Phyliss Hyman, George Howard, Diane Reeves, Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Eddie Palmieri, Manny Oquendo Conjunto Libre, Philadelphia Orchestra, Musiq, Norman Brown’s 2003 Grammy award winning, Just Chillin album. Pablo has been a Latin Percussion endorser and clinician since 1985.
In 1954 the Batista’s moved to Bethlehem, PA with a family of 4 children, 3 daughters and their youngest son Pablo. At the age of 9 Pablo started studying hand drums with master percussionist Miguel Candia. From there he learned the styles of popular and Afro-Caribbean music, with a specific interest in Salsa. After graduating Bethlehem Catholic High School in 1981 Pablo went on to attend Temple University and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts. Pablo started teaching Afro-Caribbean percussion at The Association of Latin American Musicians (AMLA).
A demo of folkloric and percussive music recorded at Temple University’s music department landed Pablo a chance to work with jazz legend Grover Washington Jr. At the time Pablo was recording the tracks, he was working part time at the Urban Collation in Philadelphia. Pablo’s boss was a good friend of Walt Reeder who was managing Jean Carnes; he passed the tape on to Grover Washington who was producing Carnes album “Closer than Close”. Pablo received a phone call from Grover to come audition at Alpha Recording Studios in Philadelphia. Pablo was invited to record on Jean’s track which became an R&B hit. Grover was impressed with Pablo’s talent and immediately hired him to perform in his band at the world famous Blue Note in NYC and Washington DC’s, Blues Alley. On the way to the Blue Note Pablo stopped by the Latin Percussion’s headquarters to pick up several instruments. While at LP Pablo met and invited President and Founder of LP, Martin Cohen to the Blue Note performance. After the performance he immediately signed Pablo as a LP endorse and clinician.
From Jean Carnes “Closer than Close” session Pablo hooked up with Nick Martinelli who was a famous R&B producer in Philly. Nick hired Pablo as a studio percussionist for Regina Bells debut Album “All By Myself.” Pablo performed on Bell’s smash hit “Show me the Way.” Regina loved Pablo’s sound and hired him to tour with her band in the US. Then, in 1988 Pablo received a call to come audition for the percussion chair for Jeffrey Osborne. Out of a pool of approximately 20 LA based percussionist, Pablo’s audition landed him the job. He toured with Jeffrey Osborne from 1988-1991.
In 1991, while teaching at AMLA between tours Pablo received his first grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts to do folkloric research in Cuba. He went on to receive this award 4 more times where he continued traveling to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban drumming. During that year Pablo received a call from Grover Washington Jr. to join his band full-time. He went to play with Grover from 1991-1999.
Pablo continued touring and recording which exposed his talents to many other artists. He was called into the studio to record with the late Phyllis Hyman who began using him on tour dates. He continued working with Phyllis and then received a phone call from the late Philadelphia Saxophonist George Howard. The more people heard him, the more in-demand he became; soon after he went to tour with Dianne Reeves.