Dear Music Lovers,

2018 was a great year, and I had the honor of performing and recording with some amazing musicians.

Oregon, with Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless and Paolino Dalla Porta toured Europe in the Spring. Ralph is 79 and still the best guitarist alive, in my opinion.  We sold many copies of the latest CD, Lantern, on Cam Jazz. I hope we can tour again, but it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

I traveled to Japan to record with my longtime friend and mentor Akio Sasajima and the result was a wonderful CD featuring Randy Brecker, Mark Tourian and David Berkman entitled “Hokkaido Horizon.” So far, it’s been released in Japan, but I’m told there will be a US release, including CD and 180 gram vinyl. We played several cities in Japan, and it was great to get to know Randy personally, as well as musically.

I also had the pleasure of working with Michel Camilo, both in a trio and a big band context.  We played a week at the Blue note with Michel, Ricky Rodriguez, and later a concert in Luxembourg with the Luxembourg Jazz Orchestra. The LJO crushed it, and a great time was had by all. Michel continues to be the Olympian of the piano.

One of the major highlights of 2018 was playing at NJPAC in Newark, NJ with Christian McBride Big Band and backing up guests, Sheila E., Eddie Palmieri and Tito Rojas.  They are all very special human beings, as well as the cream of the crop in Latin music.

I was also surprised to learn of my nomination in Modern Drummer magazine’s 2019 Readers poll, in the category of Clinician/Educator.  The results will be announced soon.  Fingers crossed!

Entering my 30th year playing with Paquito D’Rivera, we had some nice gigs in 2018, including the Blue Note jazz clubs, both in New York and Tokyo. We also played in Mexico, playing a very special concert with superstar songwriter Armando Manzanero.  The audience knew (and sang) every word of every song along with us. We also played festivals on Mackinac Island and two nights at the Jazz Forum in New York, where legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb sat in with us.  I’m so glad I had a chance to tell him how important his drumming has always been to me.

Another great experience was working with the NDR radio band of Hamburg, Germany, featuring my old pal Alon Yavnai on piano and the great singer/percussionist Joca Perpignan. The arrangements were so much fun to play, and the band was on fire.

2019 began on a high note at the International Jazz Festival in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, where we performed a set of new arrangements of the music of Chick Corea with Paquito D’Rivera’s band. I arranged “La Fiesta.” Paquito now wants to record these arrangements, so we should be going in the studio sometime this year.

Finally! I’m releasing my first solo album! Recorded at Berklee College of Music, it features Alain Mallet, Oscar Stagnaro, Pernell Saturnino, Paulo Stagnaro, Tim Miller, Diego Urcola and special guest Paquito D’Rivera.  You will hear 4 of my original compositions and 3 standard tunes.  The vibe is Latin jazz, but many different rhythms are represented here from the U.S. to Uruguay.

There will be a CD release in my hometown of Chicago, IL on March 10, featuring myself, my old pals Jim Trompeter on keys, Eric Hochberg on bass and Joe Rendon on percussion, and two amazing horn players: Victor Garcia on trumpet and John Wojciechowski on sax.

On March 9, I will lead a drum clinic at Vic’s Drum Shop in Chicago entitled “Tools and Techniques for the Modern Drummer.” It will be sponsored by Yamaha, Paiste, Vic Firth, Meinl and Remo.

On January 19th, I played a concert with the great Brazilian guitarist and singer Chico Pinheiro at Jim Rouse Theater in Columbia,  Maryland.  On February 2nd I will take part in a tribute to Ray Barretto led by percussionist Eguie Castrillo, featuring Ray Vega and Ruben Rodriguez at Regattabar in Cambridge, MA.

Paquito has more dates coming up in Moscow, Russia, Miami Florida and Chicago, Il.  Please check the “Events” page for more information.

This year is also special for me because I’m graduating with a bachelor’s in professional studies at Berklee Online. It’s been a fantastic program with a lot of challenging material!  I guess the 35-year break after high school helped.

I hope to see you on the road!  Please leave your email address if you’d like to receive updates by email.

Peace, Love and Groove,




18 thoughts on “Update January 2019

  1. Hi Mark! My name is Fred Dinkins. I’ve been listening your work and it’s really great. I’m a drummer as well and I consistently work on improving my skills. I recently purchased your book. Do you do Skype lessons and if so how much do you charge? I’m a professional as well so I would have specific questions. Again Thanks for the lessons that you’ve already given through your music. Please tell Casey hello for me. Thanks Fred Dinkins

    1. Hi Fred,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Somehow this message slipped through the cracks. I do Skype lessons.

      Please feel free to contact me.



  2. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you should publish more on this issue, it might not be a
    taboo subject but usually folks don’t talk about these subjects.
    To the next! Many thanks!!

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