5 Drummerszone artists - Alex Acuña

Alex Acuña
* December 12, 1944
Peru, United States
Born in Pativilca, Peru, 100 miles north of Lima as Alejandro Neciosup Acuña, Alex was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. His father and five brothers were all musicians. Alex Acuña taught himself how to play the drums from the age of four. By the time Alex turned ten, he was already playing in local bands. As a teenager, he moved to Lima and became one of Peru's most accomplished session drummers, performing on many recording projects for artists, as well as film and television productions.

In Lima, Alex Acuña also earned a glowing reputation for his live performances. So much so, that at the age of eighteen, Alex was chosen by the great Latin band leader, Perez Prado, to join his big band. It was with the Prado band that Alex first traveled to the United States. In 1967, Alex moved to Puerto Rico to work as a studio musician and play locally. During this period, he also studied for three years at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, playing as a classical percussionist with the Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the famed Spanish cellist master Pablo Casals.

Alex Acuña moved to Las Vegas in 1974, where he played with such greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Between 1975 and 1977, he made part of jazz history when he became both drummer and percussionist for one of the most innovative and pioneering jazz groups of our time, Weather Report. He first performed as percussionist (October 1975 to April 1976), and later as drummer (April 1976 to October 1977). He recorded two albums with the group: "Black Market" (1976) and the highly successful "Heavy Weather" (1977), which included the famous tracks "Birdland" and "Havona." "Heavy Weather" became the first jazz-fusion album to sell a million copies.

Alex Acuña next moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1978 where he quickly earned the position of a valued session drummer and percussionist for recordings, television and motion pictures. His countless album credits include very diverse artists such as:
  • Paul McCartney,
  • Joni Mitchell,
  • Ella Fitzgerald,
  • Whitney Houston,
  • Sergio Mendes,
  • Yellow Jackets,
  • Koinonia,
  • Juan Gabriel,
  • Luis Miguel,
  • Placido Domingo,
  • Joe Zawinul
  • and many more.

Alex has also performed live with the likes of
  • Christina Aguilera,
  • Roberta Flack,
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim,
  • The Gipsy Kings,
  • Paco de Lucia,
  • Tito Puente,

Additionally, Alex has recorded film scores under the direction of
  • Dave Grusin,
  • Alan Silvestri,
  • Michele Legrand,
  • Bill Conti,
  • Michele Colombier,
  • Marvin Hamlish,
  • Maurice Jarre,
  • Mark Isham,
  • Hans Zimmer,
  • John Williams,
  • Lalo Schiffrin,
  • and others.

Alex Acuña became the recipient of many awards and honors including the Emeritus MVP award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording for the Arts and Sciences) and winner of the "Best Latin/Brazilian Percussionist" of Modern Drummer's Readers Poll for five consecutive years.

Alex Acuña's South American and Caribbean roots and understanding of contemporary and classical music make him a complete and skilled master musician. In 2000, Alex Acuña y Su Acuarela De Tambores received a Grammy nomination for "Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album" for "Rhythms for a New Millennium". This solo album included varying styles of Latin, South American and African percussion. The nomination confirmed Alex's vast knowledge and expertise of percussion rhythms. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Alex Acuña is the epitome of the world music percussionist, to whom no style is a stranger".

In addition, Alex Acuña has composed music for various artists and produced "Thinking of You" by Alex Acuña and the Unknowns, "Rumberos Poetry" by Tolú and "Aliyah" by Kay Silberling. This year will also see the release of Tolú's "Bongo de Van Gogh," the Unknowns follow-up album, and several projects for NIDO Entertainment.

Alex is widely known as an educator, gifted teacher and clinician of drums and percussion. He has recorded four solo instructional videos and provides seminars at universities such as UC Los Angeles, Berklee School of Music in Boston. USC and other top international schools of music. DW Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, GonBops Percussion, Vic Firth, D’Addario - Evans Drums heads and Shure microphones all sponsor Alex. He is also credited with the design of Zildjian's "Azuka" line of cymbals, signature Vic Firth sticks and the caddy stick bag, the Alex Acuña line of Signature percussion instruments with GonBops – 4 Special Edition Congas, 5 Cow Bells, Timbales, Bongos and his own Special Edition Peruvian Cajon, handmade in Peru.