My Story

I’m a musician, an educator and a student


When I was fifteen my dad took me to hear pianist Cedar Walton’s trio at Sweet Basil.  The connection between him, drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Ron Carter made a huge impression on me.  I started to learn the double bass. Subsequently, I spent a lot of time in the Upper West Side jazz bar Augie’s — now Smoke — listening to masters like Dwayne Burno and Joe Farnsworth create magic out of thin air.  Sometimes I would be invited to sit in at the end of the night. At age seventeen I performed with the prestigious NYC All-City High School Jazz Ensemble at Lincoln Center. After graduating from Oberlin College and Conservatory I returned to NYC to perform and teach in my community.

Irek at Hotel Americano patio

As a master teaching artist and mentor with Leap (Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program) I teach in public schools throughout NYC, making connections with young people, their teachers and families through music.

Through Concerts in Motion I bring live music to people in hospitals, community centers and even in their homes.

I lead my own Cuban son group, Cuarteto Guataca, performing  regularly at Guadalupe Inn in Bushwick. I also play regularly with Ryo Sasaki’s Jazz Park Rangers, Spank Doo Wop and Chino Pons’ Grupo Irek.

With Gaston at Weill '02

Living in NYC has allowed me to continue a rich musical education as I learn on the job in a variety of genres.

Years with The Cotton Club All-Stars inculcated me into playing swing for dancers.

I learned to play Cuban son from José Luis Martínez, one of the founding members of Cuba’s iconic Los Van Van.

I was schooled in folkloric music by Roberto Fuentes, founder and director of Venezuela’s Alpargata Cantorum.

With Los Acustilocos I arranged and played for tenor Gaston Rivero at Carnegie Hall and presented my original music at Merkin Concert Hall. While home base is the double bass, I love to practice other instruments like accordions, guitars and keyboards.

Get in touch for information on having me at your next event!