BIO

Zahili Gonzalez Zamora is a pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and educator. Born in Manzanillo, Cuba, she started playing piano at the age of 6 and graduated from the National School of Music with a performance degree. She feels most defined by her Cuban heritage and her status as an immigrant. Her passion for music has taken her to Canada, to South East Asia and, now, to the United States – a land of immigrants. She is always moving forward, guided and driven by her music and the need to grow as an artist and a person, to share her music and her love of life with others. She aspires to inspire; to be a messenger for a journey that is not only her own, but one that deeply resonates with others. She’s an artist who’s out of her comfort zone – her home – for the sake of her work. Her rich musical background, career experience and extraordinary improvisation skills render her a leader in the modern Latin jazz idiom and an influential, emulated musician.

In the winter of 2021, she participated in a seminar for Jazz Boston magazine: “How We Thrive – Jazz in Isolation.” The purpose was to give jazz artist ideas for staying creative in the time of pandemic. She was joined on the panel by bassist Bruce Gertz, saxophonist Gerry Bergonzi and trumpeter/composer Geoff Adams. 

In 2018, with funding from The Boston Foundation, her Afro Cuban Jazz Trio, MIXCLA, released its self-titled album, which features her original tunes and arrangements. It has received critical acclaim and earned the attention of major agents locally and internationally. The album has thus far advanced in the world of jazz, adding to her accolades two nominations from the Boston Music Awards (2018 & 2019).

Her trio has headlined at Sculler’s Jazz Club in Boston since 2018. A jazz landmark, Sculler’s has welcomed such greats as Lou Rawls, Bobby Short, George Shearing, Shirley Horn, Christian McBride, Ravi Coltrane and Wynton Marsalis, among others. They performed at the 59th Monterey Jazz Festival, the 2016 Stave Sessions as part of The Celebrity Series of Boston, the 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival and other highly respected venues and festivals.

 

Some of the artists she has had the honor to work with include flutist Orlando “Maraca” Valle; Grammy award-winning gospel singer Kim Burrell; WOMEX and Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement award winner Totó La Momoposina; percussionist, composer and singer Rubén Rada; fourteen-time Grammy award winner saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera; Juno-award winning Canadian-Sudanese vocalist Emmanuel Jal; two-time Grammy and eleven-time Latin Grammy award winning singer/songwriter and actor Carlos Vives; Grammy and Latin Grammy award winner pianist Pablo Zeigler; Juno-award winning trumpeter Ingrid Jensen; orchestral director and founder of Camerata Romeu Zenaida Romeu; two-time Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Jon Secada; saxophonist, flutist Daniel Smith; bassist and arranger Esther Rojas; Velvet Note founder Simona Minns and drummer/bandleader of Soul Republic Raul Paulino Noriega.

 

In 2017, Zahili graduated from Berklee College of Music, summa cum laude, with a dual-degree in Jazz Composition and Jazz Piano Performance. While still a student she won the 40th annual Downbeat Magazine Music Award under the Outstanding Performance category and the Duke Ellington and the Wayne Shorter Awards for her outstanding creativity and musicianship. In 2019, she joined Berklee’s Piano Department as an Assistant Professor. She teaches private piano, Basic Keyboard for Non-Piano Principals and Advanced Latin Composing Technique.