Nico Spezzacatena

world percussionist, performer and educator
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OBJECTIVE:  To research, study, preserve, and educate in the field of traditional African diasporas, resulting in publications, documentaries (video and audio), and performances of traditional dance, drumming and song from these wonderful cultures.


Master of Fine Arts, World Music, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA, 2000         

Bachelor of Fine Arts, World Music, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA, 1998              

 Cuban and Haitian studies, University of Miami, Miami, FL, 1995                



Ahmanson Foundation Scholarship, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA, 2000

The National Dean's List Honors, Nationwide, 1998-99



Recording, Multiple percussion tracks for Beyond the Reef, a Soul Fabrics film about Hawaiian canoe voyages, May 2009

Workshops, West African workshops with Sulley Imoro, April - May 2009

 Composition, Collaboration for Ulalena production with Doug Floyd and Luke Buavan and Doug Floyd, May 2007

Performance, Percussion for Jungle Book, Theatre Theatre Maui, Summer 2005

Recording, Multiple percussion for Another Giant Leap, a documentary by Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto (sequel to 1 Giant Leap), July 2004 

Performance, Original Lion King cast, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, October 2003           

Performances, Corporate events in the Hawaiian Islands ranging from EA sports to PNC bank, Dec. 2002 - present

Percussionist, Stage Production Ulalena (over 2000+ performances), Sept 2002 - present

Performer/Musician/Arranger, “Atlantis,” an opera by Pepe Ozan, Summer 2000

Performer/Musician/Arranger, Idyllwild Jazz Festival, 1998 & 2000                     

Performer/Musician, "Fefe,” "Fefe II, and "Dilemma in Faith,” African operas by Alfred Ladzekpo, 1997, 1998, 2000   

Researcher & Videographer, Nada Brahma Foundation (dedicated to the research and preservation of indigenous culture), 1999 - present

Videographer, 30-Year Remembrance Celebration, Anyako, Ghana, West Africa, 1999

Research Project, Social and secular music in its natural environment: Ewe and Dagbani examples from Ghana, West Africa    1999

Performer/Musician/Arranger, "Temple of Rudra," an opera by Pepe Ozan, 1998

Arranger/Performer , The Lion King II, World Premiere in Los Angeles, 1998

Performer/Musician, "Medicine of the Spiral,” an interdisciplinary project by Ann Millikin, 1998     

Founder/Arranger/Performer, Guineafia, drum and dance ensemble, 1996 - 2002

Musician, “Pan into the 21st Century” with Boogsie Sharpe, 1995

Recording Sessions: Huun-Huur-Tu and Food; Catholic Press Studio Artist; Cal Arts Jazz Projects (Capitol Records); Traditional African recordings, performances, and interviews from Ghana; student and independent film projects; Wovoka; Food interdisciplinary  projects; Cal Arts Women's CD and more.

Teaching Drum and Dance: California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), Plaza De La Raza, Southern California Day Care, and independently at California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, Harvard-Westlake School, and various students around the United States.

Performances with Olodum, Trichy Sankaran, Ozomatli, Los Lobos, Swapan Chaudhuri, John Bergamo, Bruce Springsteen, Quetzal, Kakraba Lobi, and Mark Karan, to name a few.

Numerous performances, demonstrations, and lectures have been given since 1990.


Videography & Research, Kwamivi Tsegah’s Funeral (Ewe, Ghana), DVD, 43 min., 2004

Videography & Research, Husunu’s Durbar (Ewe, Ghana), DVD, 34 min., 2007

Videography & Research, Damba in Yendi (Dagomba, N. Ghana), DVD, 37 min., 2009 


African Instruments

3 Ewe Sets including 3 Atsimevu, 3 Sogo, 3 Kidi, 5 Kagan, 2 Kloboto, 2 Totodzi, Agboba drum, and several rattles (Axatse) and bells (Gankogui)

Fontomfrom set includes 2 From, 2 Atumpani, 1 Petia, 1 Ampentemma, dawuro (bell)

Djembe ensemble consists of: 3 djembe, one 34 Gallon Djun, 2 Kenkeni, 2 Sangba, 2 large Dunduns

Dagomba Instruments: 10 Lunga (talking drums of various sizes), 5 Gungon (Bass drum with snares), Calabash, multiple metals including clappers and castanets

Nigerian Instruments: Full traditional Yoruba Bata set consisting of 1 Iya, 1 Ako, 1 Abo, 3 Eki, 1 gudugudu. Iya, Itotele, Okonkolo. Other Nigerian instruments: the Udu, Shekere, and Ekwe (medium-sized log drum)

Other African drums include: Gadzo drum, 2 Zevu (concrete drum), Bobobor drum, Agbolomnyi (large torpedo drum), 2 Kpanlogo drums

2 Kogili (Ghanaian xylophone) and 1Kalimba (thumb piano)

An assortment of rattles/nuts/seeds/shells/metals

Indian Instruments

3 set of Tabla (3 Tabla and 3 Bhaya), G, D, B pitches; 3 Kanjiras, 1 Mrdangam, 1 Ghatam, 2 Moorsing (jaw harp)

Afro-Cuban Instruments 

7 Congas ranging from 7’ LP jr – 12 1⁄2’ LP Tumba, 2 Jr Congas, 1 Requinto, 1 Quinto, 2 Congas, 1 Tumba, array of cowbells, Bongos, Cajon, Palitos and Claves

Polynesian Instruments 

2 Pahu drums (large and small), 1 Ipuheke, Wiliwili (shaker), Kaekeeke (bamboo of various sizes/pitches), conch shells, Toete (Tahitian log drum)

Frame Drums 

Riqq, Tambourine, Bendir, various sizes of frame drums and Daffs 

Other Instruments 

Didjeridoo, several Bullroarers, ChangChang (Bali) and Kendang (Balinese double headed drum). 72 Vintage Ludwig Snare drum, Dumbek, 28’ Bass drum, Pandiero, Cuica, bird calls, rainsticks, and variety of metallophones from airplane parts to Paiste cymbals to 42” Chinese gongs and several effects processors.


References available upon request


878 Front St. Suite B4, Lahaina, HI  96761
661- 312-3924