Born on a leap day, to a dancer and a filmmaker in Bogotá, Colombia, Martin Vejarano was surrounded by the arts and culture from early childhood. At the age of seven Martin began a successful 15-year-long acting career in films, documentaries, and TV series. However, as a teenager, he realized that his true love was music, and began a serious study of jazz drums and theory.
photo credit - Juan José Vejarano
Juan José Vejarano Gonzales & Piedad "PIA" Avila Riveros
Drummer, Woodwind player, Composer & Educator .
Before beginning a jazz performance degree at the University INCCA in Bogotá, Martin decided to simultaneously pursue his own research in traditional Colombian music. Over the next few years he made several trips to remote areas of Colombia to research indigenous tradition, study the strong percussive influences of the African music, and to learn how to make traditional instruments by hand from master gaita flute and drum makers.
In 1999 Martin moved to New York City, and in 2000 quickly assembled a group of Colombian expatriates and American jazz musicians that began performing as La Cumbiamba eNeYé . Today La Cumbiamba NY is one of the most respected Colombian ensembles in New York. The group has given concerts major venues such as: Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, the Central Park Summer Stage, and has led workshops and master classes at major universities including: Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, and others. Vejarano has produced two albums with La Cumbiamba NY: "Marioneta" - Chonta Records, 2005 and the double album "La Palma" - Chia Records, 2010.
Martin’s pioneering work on the “Colombian drum set” through which he adapts complex traditional rhythms to a modified trap drum set has been recognized by many of New York’s most innovative artists. As a drummer, percussionist, gaitero, and composer, Vejarano performs regularly with such artists as Marc Ribot, Dan Zanes, Edmar Castañeda, Samuel Torres, Hess is More, Lucia Pulido, Sofia Rei and Sonia De Los Santos, among others.
In 2007 and 2008 Martin and La Cumbiamba NY, participating under the group name “Marioneta” won second place at the Gaita Music Festival in San Jacinto, Colombia. In 2008 Martin graduated with a degree in Jazz Performance at the Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of music in NYC.
Vejarano founded Chia’s Dance Party in 2009 as a vehicle to experiment styles from the marching band traditions of Colombia such as Banda Pelayera and Chirimia. Vejarano has forged a middle ground where his compositional interests and his love for jazz and brass bands combine with his country’s musical heritage. With Chia’s Dance Party, Vejarano has produced two albums of original material La Miel, Chia Records, 2010 and Mango , Chia Records 2014.
In 2016 Martin founded Cumbia River Band, where he would write the music and play the clarinet, his new musical love! In 2017 Martin earned a Liberal Arts degree, majoring in music theory, from the City College of New York. In 2019 he was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Children's category as a musical producer for Sonia De Los Santos' album "¡Alegría!".
During 2019 and the infamous year of the pandemic 2020, a new musical collaboration with long time friend and college, also a child actor and musician living in NYC, Jorge Ivan "Tito" Duarte was born. The project has the name of MAR-Trio and features new compositions and arrangements for guitar, clarinet and percussion.
2022 has is the year of La Cumbiamba eNeYé's NEW release. "RESPLANDOR" was recorded live at The People's Forum of New York on October 25th 2021 and released on March 25th 2022.
Martin is currently working with his projects as well as teaching privately as well as in NYC’s Public School.