Luis Perdomo outside of LeFrak Concert Hall. Photo: Shan Pangilinan

Q&A With Grammy-Winning Queens College Professor Luis Perdomo

4 mins read

Made In Queens is a series of interviews with notable business owners, politicians, and celebrities that make up the diverse community of Queens, New York.

When Professor Luis Perdomo heard the news that he won Best Latin Jazz Album this past Grammy Awards, he received the news in the most unconventional of ways: a text message.

Perdomo, a former Queens College student and current adjunct professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music, sat down with The Knight News to talk about his experience of winning a Grammy and his love of music. 

The Knight News: Who was the first person to tell you that you won the Grammy? 

Luis Perdomo: “I had a concert and one of my friends, a guitar player — I also teach at Berklee College of Music and he’s also on the faculty over there — he texted me. He said ‘Congrats.’ So I’m doing a sound check and see my phone with the words ‘Congrats.’ My partner, Miguel [Zenón], with whom I won the Grammy, also texted, ‘Man, we won!’ I’m like ‘Oh man, don’t tell me the record won. Wow, we won a Grammy.’” 

TKN: During the Grammy acceptance speech, Miguel described you as his “partner in crime.” What is your experience working together with him? 

LP: “Well, I’ve been playing with Miguel for probably 24 years. The first time we worked together was in in 1999. We have done 12 recordings together and been in different bands. We used to play together with the great Ray Barretto. We share the same musical mind and goals, which is why we match musically.” 

TKN: Did you two meet at The Manhattan School of Music? 

LP: “Hans Glawischnig, the bass player in his band, went to school with me at the Manhattan School of Music. We used to play in a trio with a drummer. After we graduated, we continued  playing together. Our drummer suggested, ‘You guys have to listen to this guy Miguel.’ 

Eventually, he brought Miguel to one of our rehearsals. As soon as he played a couple of notes, I was like ‘Wow. Who is this guy? He sounds really good.’  Since then, we’ve just clicked musically.” 

TKN: Did you form a great friendship with him over the years?

LP: “Yeah, to this day we’re really good friends. We both teach; he has a position at MIT in Boston, and I’ve also been teaching at MIT, even though my main work is at Berklee. We often see each other at work and during the summer, we have a lot of work together. It’s one of those friendships where we never say goodbye or anything — it’s always ‘I’ll see you next time.’

TKN: As a final thought, do you have any advice for a student currently at Queens College that would one day like to go on the same path as you and possibly win a Grammy? 

LP: “Don’t let anything take you away from your path. Especially when you know that you have a certain goal. We all have different paths. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have your own path. Sometimes I used to compare myself to some of my friends. It’s very distracting to your own personal growth. Make sure that you know where you want to go and keep working towards getting to that goal.”

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