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Arturo Tappin

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Arturo Tappin
Arturo Tappin at Barbados Week in Atlanta in 2003.
Arturo Tappin at Barbados Week in Atlanta in 2003.
Background information
GenresJazz, soul
Instrument(s)Saxophone, flute

Arturo Tappin is a jazz/reggae saxophonist from Barbados. He performs predominantly the genre of smooth jazz, and has performed alongside personalities such as Roberta Flack, Monty Alexander, and on an album by Luther Vandross.[1][2][3]

He is based in New York City, but is strongly linked to his homeland. In the late 1980s he made his debut as a leader of his own quintet including pianist Jacky Terrasson at International Barbados/Caribbean Jazz Festival.[4]


Arturo Tappin performing at the Experience On The Green Event in Oakland, California at the Oakland Museum of California in 2008.(Photo/Adam Turner)

Arturo Tappin began his musical career, with formal training at Berklee College of Music. Described as a cross between the Teddy Pendergrass and Kenny G, Tappin has been referred to as: "the smoothest, saxiest [sic] horn man the Caribbean has to offer."[5] Influenced by the roots culture, he made headway with his roots-reggae Jazz-fusion album for his debut recording, and increased the hype with a repeat performance on his second album, entitled Java, both licensed by Pioneer Records in Japan.

His dynamic live performances and his reputation for putting on explosive shows led him to perform at the Edinburgh Festival, Soho Jazz Festival, Miami AT&T Caribbean Jazz Festival, St. Lucia,[6] [1] Antigua, Curaçao, Montserrat,SKNVibes | Montserrat Jazzes Up Annual Calabash Festival St. Kitts, St. Vincent, Grenada and Barbados Jazz festivals, Arturo continued his live performance schedule at Bob Marley's Birthday Bash, James Bond Film Festival in Jamaica, and Trinidad's Independence Day celebration in Miami. Besides touring jazz festivals the world over, Tappin has performed at social engagements as well including a performance for past United States President Bill Clinton[7] and twice for Fidel Castro and President Barack Obama.[8] He received the 2005 Excellence in the Arts award from former Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson.[9]

Tappin has played and recorded with many artists including Luther Vandross, Eddy Grant, Red Rodney, Milt Hilton, Monty Alexander, Ernest Ranglin, Jacky Terrasson, Courtney Pine, Al Harewood, Roy Haynes, Ellis Marsalis, Oliver Jones, Doc Cheatham, Pete King, Mutabaruka, The Wailers Band, Earl Brooks Jr.,[10] Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, Third World, Mikey Bennet, Dennis Bovell, Sandra Cross, Luther François, Maxi Priest, Bongo Herman and Dean Fraser. Tappin attributes much of his success to a former tutor at Berklee College of Music, Bill Pierce (Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers), uncle Elombe Mottley, and his parents for their constant love and support. He can be currently seen on stage with singer and pianist Roberta Flack.[11]

Artistes who have credited Tappin as a source of inspiration include: Elan Trotman[12][13] and Shabaka Hutchings.[14]

He is also a first cousin of The Hon. Mia Mottley, first female Prime Minister of Barbados.


In 2003, Tappin won the SUNSHINE Award for Contribution to Caribbean Art Comedy Dance Drama Music and Poetry[15] In 2021 the blog CONAN Daily ranked Tappin as #7 on its list of Barbados' "10 most handsome men alive".


  1. ^ "Arturo Tappin: Saxman listing on Broadway Baby".
  2. ^ Hughes, Cathy (24 June 2010). "Keeping the creative spirit alive: Reflecting on the Hughes legacy". Guyana Review. Stabroek Newspaper. Retrieved 10 January 2021. Sidewalk also became 'home' in Guyana to Arturo Tappin who has spent years performing with the internationally renowned artiste Roberta Flack and the late Luther Vandross.
  4. ^ Gittens, Marsha (11 July 2016). "Pan Show Simply Sweet!". News. The Barbados Advocate newspaper. Barbados Advocate Co. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  5. ^ Cardinez, Gary, ed. (3 May 2019). "Arturo's revving for Jazz Under The Stars". Features. Trinidad and Tobago Newsday Newspaper. Retrieved 10 January 2021. THE "saxiest [sic]" horn man from the Caribbean, Arturo Tappin is in TT rearing to go at Jazz Under the Stars at Green Meadows in Santa Cruz on Saturday.
  6. ^ "VIDEO: Arturo Tappin at St Lucia Jazz". Entertainment. The Daily Nation Newspaper. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2021. Arturo Tappin and his band perform some familiar songs at St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2015.
  7. ^ Reckord, Michael; Rodriquez, Ana Marie, eds. (31 July 2018). "Jazzed up farewell to UWI's 70th". Entertainment. The Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper (published 1 August 2018). Retrieved 10 January 2021. When Barbadian singer and saxophonist Arturo Tappin played Bill Clinton, a lover and player of the saxophone, the former United States president was "impressed". This was relayed to The Gleaner on Sunday, shortly before Tappin took to the stage set up in the UWI, Mona's Oriental Gardens for an evening of jazz.
  8. ^ "Machel Montano, Arturo Tappin and Myrna Hague on board for UWI Chancellor's Week". jamaica-gleaner.com. July 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "Tappin, Standing For 'Jazz On The Beach'". News. The Saint Lucia Voice Newspaper. The Voice Publishing Co. (1953) Ltd. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2021. In the rich tradition of exciting musical collaborations which have characterized the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival to date, the Caribbean's 'saxiest' jazz horn-man, Barbadian Arturo Tappin will join Jazz guitarist Chris Standring in a thrilling encounter on May 6 at the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort.
  10. ^ "Sax, pan fusion". Nationnews.com. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Arturo Tappin". September 11, 2005. Archived from the original on 11 September 2005.
  12. ^ Baptiste, Dionne, ed. (11 May 2020). "Elan Trotman: Ordinary man, extraordinary talent". Lifestyle. Loop Caribbean News. Retrieved 10 January 2022. As a fledgling in the industry, Elan says he was fortunate to have the support and guidance of Arturo Tappin, a fellow Bajan and Saxophonist who had already earned international recognition and was regarded as a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. He said: "I always knew about him obviously but once I started playing the sax I became his shadow. I'd go to all of his concerts, I'd go over to his house and get free lessons. I just really tried to mimic what he was doing musically on the horn and the way he was dressed and all that. He was the only person I really had access to as far as being a mentor as someone playing on the world stage. He really took me under his wing and prepared me for Berklee, once I got the scholarship from the government. He's definitely like a big brother to me."
  13. ^ "An Interview with Cannonball artist Elan Trotman". Cannonballmusic.com. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  14. ^ Edey, Walter (10 June 2021). "From Queen's College to the world". Barbados Today Newspaper. Retrieved 10 January 2022. The acclaimed saxophonist and clarinetist's journey began innocently. A music teacher at Queen's College introduced him to a clarinet. The music cupboard had more clarinets than saxophones. Later, Arturo Tappin's playing style and jigs with Roberta Flack impressed him.
  15. ^ "Past Recipients – SUNSHINE Awards". sunshineawards.com.

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