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April 4-6, 2025

Word of South

Sylvia Cuenca

Sylvia Cuenca is an active drummer on the New York jazz scene who is contributing outstanding performances in a variety of situations. She has had the honor of sharing the bandstand with saxophone legend Joe Henderson for 4 years and trumpet legend Clark Terry for 17 years. She performed with the Clark Terry Quintet and Big Band at clubs, concerts and festivals in the U.S, Europe, the Caribbean and South America. While working with the Clark Terry quintet she had the opportunity to perform with guest artists Al Grey, Red Holloway, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Marian McPartland, Dianne Reeves, Joe Williams and Lou Donaldson, to name a few.

Sylvia was a guest clinician at the Sisters in Jazz Program at the IAJE Convention in NYC and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Cuenca has been a longtime faculty member at the Jazz for Pre-Teen and Teens Program and all female residency at NJPAC and the Stanford Jazz Workshop and Jazz Camp West in California. She was an artist-in-residence at various universities in the U.S. and Europe with the Clark Terry quintet, Eddie Henderson quartet and as a leader with her own groups. In 2019 she was a Guest Artist at the Skidmore Jazz Institute in Saratoga Springs, NY.

In 2014 she received a B.A. degree in Jazz Performance from Empire State University in NYC.

In 1988 and 1991, she received jazz performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 1992 she was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Drum Competition. Recently she received New Works grant from the 2022 Jazz Aid Fund made possible by San Jose Jazz. She’ll appearing at Word of South as part of the “Tribute to the Women in Jazz” Sunday on the Florida Jazz & Blues/Marriott AC Hotel Ballroom stage.