Imer Santiago

Imer Santiago's Biography

Edwin Imer Santiago was born in Lorain, Ohio, to parents originally from Puerto Rico. He took up trumpet while in the fifth grade, initially inspired by a trumpeter he remembers only as "Junior" who played at a mostly Hispanic local Assembly of God church. Santiago grew up listening to church hymns and to African-American gospel songs that had been translated into Spanish. Remaining active in church music, he toured from 2004 to 2007 as a member of the prominent Austin-based Christian rock band, Salvador, with whom he still plays occasional dates.

After high school, where he played in the orchestra, marching band, and jazz band and discovered the music of Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Charlie Parker, Santiago spent five years at The Ohio State University, where trumpet-playing professor Pharez Whitted (now director of Jazz Studies at Chicago State University) was a huge influence on his musical development. After earning bachelor's degrees in jazz studies and atmospheric sciences from Ohio State, Santiago attended the University of New Orleans, from which he received a Masters of Music degree in jazz studies in 2000. Among his instructors in New Orleans were Ellis Marsalis, Wendell Brunious, Harold Battiste, and Clyde Kerr, Jr.

Initially drawn to Nashville, Tennessee because Salvador's management and record label were located there, Santiago started teaching middle school band in 2007, and in August 2012 began working part-time as an adjunct trumpet instructor at Tennessee State University. From May 2013 through June 2015, Santiago served as the director of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools' ambitious new district-wide mariachi music program for students in grades 6 through 12.

Santiago has also toured with artists such as, TobyMac, Jaci Velasquez, Group 1 Crew, and Ryan Corn. He leads the Imer Santiago Quintet and co-leads El Movimiento, a Latin jazz and world music septet which grew out of a weekly jam session that he, saxophonist Rahsaan Barber, and percussionist Giovanni Rodriguez launched in 2008. Santiago continues to find time to do studio session work and freelance performance work. One of his most interesting studio dates was a collaboration with musicians in Mumbai, India, on a dance tune titled "Battameez Dil." Santiago recorded his trumpet, along with a horn section in Nashville, while the producers in India communicated with them over Skype. "They could see and hear us," he says of the Mumbai musicians. A lively Bollywood-style video of the song can be viewed on YouTube.

Santiago serves as the Director of Jazz Bands at the Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee, Florida, where he conducts four jazz big bands (three high school and one middle school) and teaches music theory, grades 7 through 12.

Imer Santiago's Gear
Imer Santiago

Gear List

YTR-8310Z YTR-8345 SB7X