Luis Bonilla

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Luis Bonilla
Bonilla Brass Ecstasy at Chicago Jazz Festival 2008
Photo: Mark Mahar
Background information
Birth name Luis Diego Bonilla
Born (1965-10-12) October 12, 1965 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, Latin jazz, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, record producer, educator
Instruments Trombone
Years active 1988–present
Labels Candid, Planet Arts
Associated acts Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Lester Bowie, Dave Douglas

Luis Bonilla (born Luis Diego Bonilla, October 12, 1965, Los Angeles, California) is an American jazz trombonist of Costa Rican descent. He is a Grammy Award-winning performer, composer, and teacher.[1]


Luis Bonilla (seated) producing Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra, April 2014

Bonilla was introduced to jazz in school. He was enrolled in a brass class, believing it to be a metal shop class, only to find himself with a trombone in his hands. He attended Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles, where he studied under John Rinaldo. After he graduated from high school, he studied at California State University, Los Angeles,[2] earning bachelor's and master's degrees in Jazz Performance and Composition from the Manhattan School of Music.[1] He studied in Los Angeles with Don Raffell and Roy Main.

Bonilla has supported himself as a session musician and a sideman performing with McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Astrud Gilberto, Willie Colón, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. He has demonstrated his versatility as a musician working with artists as varied as Phil Collins, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Marc Anthony, La India, Phil Collins, and Mary J. Blige.[3] He has drawn inspiration from Lester Bowie, his mentor, with whom he toured. Bonilla calls Bowie his "father away from home", with whom he has learned a great deal.[4]

He has taught at the Manhattan School of Music, Temple University, and the New England Conservatory. He is a member of the Mingus Big Band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.[1] In February 2009, he received two Grammy Awards with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.[5]

In 2010 he was featured as a classical soloist on The Chamber Wind Music of Jack Cooper and as a jazz soloist on the large ensemble recording Coming Through Slaughter – The Bolden Legend (GCR). He served as main producer and trombonist on Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts, 2014).


As leader or featured artist[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Dave Douglas

With Gerald Wilson

DVD, movies, television[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bonilla, Luis (2009). "Luis Bonilla; Trombonist, Composer". Official Website. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  2. ^ We're Back! LP from CSULA, 1986
  3. ^ Wilkins, Mariah (2009). "Bio: Luis Bonilla". Mariah Wilkins Artist Management LLC. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  4. ^ Cirelli-Heurich, Julie (April 9, 2009). "Luis Bonilla is a trombonist with a lot on his mind". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  5. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Afro-Cuban Jazz. Miller Freeman Books. p. 22. ISBN 0-87930-619-X. 

External links[edit]