BAM performance on Sep. 6, 2012, photo by Zulema Mejias
|Birth name||Oscar Peñas Cambray|
August 13, 1972 |
|Genres||Jazz, crossover jazz|
|Labels||Fresh Sound New Talent, Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Musikoz|
Oscar Peñas is a Catalan-American guitarist born in Barcelona, Spain. In 2007, after completing his musical education at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Peñas moved to New York City. As a child, he was inspired by his ongoing family's tradition of singing and playing music during their car trips. His maternal grandfather played trumpet professionally in the Orquesta Gran Gala and occasionally with Xavier Cugat's band during his European tours.
After he received his first guitar at the age of five on Epiphany’s Day, Peñas began private classical guitar lessons at age nine with Javier Olond. At seventeen, he discovered the jazz world, a fascination which altered his desired musical path and prompted him to sign up at the Taller de Músics in Barcelona. There, his most notable professor and friend was Vicenç Solsona. He also studied with Sean Leavitt and Horacio Fumero, among others.
In 1997 he enrolled at Berklee College of Music, where he studied with Luciana Souza, Mick Goodrick, and Jon Damian. Peñas graduated cum laude, in 1999 and returned to his home city Barcelona to become a professor at the Taller de Músics from 2000 to 2005. At the same time, he led the Oscar Peñas Group (a.k.a. Astronautus). With this group, he recorded Astronautus (2003) and The Return of Astronautus (2005), both with the label Fresh Sound New Talent, and performed throughout Spain. In 2005 Peñas was awarded a scholarship and decided to earn his Masters in Jazz Studies at the New England Conservatory. He with Charlie Banacos, Danilo Perez, and Frank Carlberg, before graduating in 2007.
Afterwards, Peñas moved to New York City. In November, 2011, he self-produced and released his third album and first US release, From Now On (BJU Records), with the addition of special guest Gil Goldstein.
Music of Departures and Returns (2014) is his fourth album and his second recording in the U.S., self-released under his own record label Musikoz. The album, a collection of versatile tunes, features collaborations with three Grammy winners and friends: Gil Goldstein, Paquito D'Rivera, and Esperanza Spalding.
2014, 2013 and 2012 ASCAP Plus awardee: The ASCAP Plus Awards program provides cash and recognition to writers who create music with a value beyond the scope of performance surveys. Peñas was awarded finalist for his original song "Paquito's Choro" in the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition (2014). He was one of the nominees for the 14th Independent Music Awards in the category, Song, Jazz Instrumental for his "Paquito’s Choro".
- Astronautus (Fresh Sound, 2003)
- The Return of Astronautus (Fresh Sound, 2005)
- From Now On (Brooklyn Jazz Underground, 2011)
- Music of Departures and Returns (Musikoz, 2014)