Pernell Saturnino

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Pernell Saturnino
Saturnino at International Jazz Festival of Punta del Este, 2015
Saturnino at International Jazz Festival of Punta del Este, 2015
Background information
Born(1962-05-23)23 May 1962
Years active1980s–present
Associated actsPaquito d'Rivera

Pernell Saturnino is a Grammy Award winning percussionist from the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Currently Pernell Saturnino is living in Curaçao and started a home based drum/percussion school.

Early life[edit]

His grandmother, granduncle and grandaunt, were among those who originated and developed the island's indigenous folkloric rhythm known as Tambú. His uncle, who led a prominent folkloric group, took him to play in the group when he was 8 years old. He started playing guiro and within a month had learned to play most of the drum patterns from the group's percussionist. The first instrument he learned to play was the tambora, a drum from Venezuela. From there, he advanced to learn congas, the tambú (a traditional Curacaoan drum), the chapi (a hoe) and timbales.

Saturnino's talents led to his joining Curaçao's best-known folkloric group, Nos Antias, with which he performed at festivals around the world.[1]


When he was 19, Saturnino began formal studies at the Foundation Institute of Music in Curaçao. He was hired as a percussionist in a house band that performed international shows at a hotel. He learned to play rhythms from such countries as Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago.[citation needed]

In 1988 he moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music, where he studied with percussionists Giovanni Hidalgo and Jesus Alfonso and performed with Joe Zawinul, Hermeto Pascoal, and Gilberto Gil. He also began performing locally with Rebecca Parris and Danilo Pérez.


Following his graduation from Berklee, he began working with saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera in The United Nation Orchestra (Live at the Manchester Craftsmens Guild[2]) and in other group settings (Portraits of Cuba, Live at the Blue Note,[3] The Clarinetist,[2] Calle 54, Big Band Time with the WDR Orchestra, Island Story with the Caribbean Jazz Project).

In 1996, Saturnino joined the David Sánchez Quintet and later Sextet, with whom he performed for nine years and recorded (Obsession,[2] Travesia,[2] Melaza[2] and Coral[3]).

He performed at the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival and the Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Festival with Wynton Marsalis, with whom he also recorded (Sweet Release). Chick Corea and the Elektric Band (To the Stars) and Diego Urcola (Viva[2]) with whom he received a Grammy nomination. He has also recorded with Danilo Perez (Central Avenue[2] and the soundtrack for the movie Huge Pool), as well as with Carlos Franzetti, Bebo Valdés, Antonio Hart (Here I Stand), Juan Pablo Torres (Trombone Man), Richie Zellon (Café con Leche), Oscar Stagnaro, Curacaoan pianist Randal Corsen (Evolushon,[4] Armonia and Dulsura di Korsou), Curacaoan vocalist Izaline Calister (Soño di un muhé, Mariposa,[5] Krioyo, Kanta helele and speransa), Donny McCaslin and Sebastian Schunke (Back in New York). Saturnino works frequently with Dee Dee Bridgewater.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Nastos, Michael G. "Biography: Pernell Saturnino". Allmusic. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Grammy nomination
  3. ^ a b Grammy award
  4. ^ Edison award
  5. ^ Edison nomination