Edwin Imer Santiago, a Nashville trumpeter, composer and Tennessee State University adjunct professor in the department of music, will release his debut music CD, Hidden Journey, Aug. 27, bringing the vibrancy of Nashville’s current jazz scene into shining focus.
Santiago’s musical journey, which began in his native Ohio with stops in New Orleans and Austin, took an important turn in 2007 when he relocated to Nashville. Here the accomplished young trumpeter forged a close bond with saxophonist Rahsaan Barber, one of the local jazz scene’s key players as well as the owner of Jazz Music City Records.
“You may not associate Nashville with jazz or Latin jazz,” said Santiago, now 36, “but Barber has an open mind to what the future can be. And he’s an entrepreneur. He’s one of my best friends and truly a brother. All those things led me to ask him to produce this record.”
Santiago contributed most of the album’s compositions and, with Barber, all of the album’s arrangements. The core quintet heard on Hidden Journey, in addition to Santiago and Barber, is rounded out by pianist Bruce Dudley, whose The Solo Sessions was released by Jazz Music City last year; bassist Jon Estes, who also mixed and mastered the new CD and shot the striking cover photographs; and drummer Josh Hunt, currently touring with bluegrass great Alison Krauss, among other artists.
Guest musicians include percussionist Giovanni Rodriguez, who co-leads the Latin-jazz fusion band El Movimiento with Santiago and Barber; El Movimiento guitarist James DaSilva; Imer’s younger brother Ivan Santiago on electric bass; trombonist Roland Barber, Rahsaan’s twin; and Jazz Music City artist Stephanie Adlington, who’s featured vocally on ‘The Very Thought of You.’
Santiago was born in Lorain, Ohio, to parents originally from Puerto Rico. He took up trumpet while in the fifth grade, and grew up listening to church hymns and to African American gospel songs that had been translated into Spanish. Remaining active in church music, he toured from 2004 to 2007 as a member of the prominent Austin-based Christian rock band Salvador, with whom he still plays occasional dates.
After high school, where he played in the orchestra, marching band, jazz band, and discovered the music of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, Santiago spent five years at the Ohio State University, where trumpet-playing professor Pharez Whitted was a huge influence on his musical development.
After earning bachelor’s degrees in jazz studies and atmospheric sciences from Ohio State, Santiago received a master’s of music degree in jazz studies in 2000 from the University of New Orleans, where his instructors included Ellis Marsalis, Wendell Brunious, Harold Battiste, and Clyde Kerr, Jr.
Initially drawn to Nashville because Salvador’s management and record label were located there, Santiago began teaching middle school in 2007, and in August 2012, also began working part-time as an adjunct trumpet instructor at Tennessee State University. He will begin working in the fall of 2013 as the director of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ ambitious new district-wide mariachi music program for students in grades 6 through 12.
Santiago currently lives in Nashville with his wife, Laisa, and his son, Keegan. He is a sought after studio musician, clinician, band leader (El Movimiento & Imer Santiago Quintet), in-demand side man, and worship pastor at The Church at Antioch, a dynamic, multi-ethnic congregation in Metropolitan Nashville.
Some of his career highlights include having original compositions performed at Urbana 2006 & 2009 (North America’s largest Missions convention), performing on the 2009 & 2010 Dove Awards, releasing The Movement (El Movimiento’s debut album, March 2010), being selected as the Tennessee Lottery/News Channel 2 Educator of the Week (March 2011), receiving the 2012 Edwina Hefner Award (Jan. 2012), and being featured as a guest artist at the University of New Orleans’ ‘Jazz at The Sandbar Series’ (March 2012) and OSU’s 35th Jazz Festival (April 2012).