Brandon Cruz has been involved in a variety of musical settings. As a classical percussionist, he has performed with the New World Symphony, Miami Symphony Orchestra, Miami Master Chorale, Greater Miami Symphonic Band, Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston, and the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. He recently performed as timpanist of the Fundacion Sinfonica Orchestra in Santo Domingo for their biannual National Festival of the Arts. He was also timpanist and Latin percussionist for the World Champion Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps in 1995 and 1997. Mr. Cruz has also performed for over a dozen musicals including productions of “Cabaret”, “Mack & Mabel”, “Baby”, “Leader of the Pack”, & “Anything Goes” among many others and has performed in the “Show Band” on multiple ships for Norweigian Cruise Lines.
As a jazz musician, Brandon has performed with several groups including the big bands of Sam Lussier and Barry Mann, the FIU Jazz Lab Band, and NEC Jazz Orchestra. He has shared the stage with Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres, Bob Moses, and Dave Liebman. He began the Brandon Cruz piano trio in 2002 and co founded the Fowlmouth Trio, a fusion ensemble focused primarily on group improvisation. His current trio, Big Fun 3, continues in the direction that FM began. Their debut album was released in April, 2010 on the Ropeadope record label. BF3 performs throughout the South Florida area and recently presented a masterclass on group improvisation at John A. Ferguson high school. They’ve also performed live on WDNA and been featured on WLRN. In addition to BF3, Mr. Cruz also regularly performs at private functions and corporate events through music entertainment companies. These companies include Suman Entertainment Group, Shajar Music Inc, Grooveline, and Music by Varon, which Brandon has been performing with for over 17 years.
Mr. Cruz has taken part in several recording projects for television advertisements and local artists, which include the Ascension R&B Group, Liz Kelly, The James Garner Blues Band, The Push-ups, and acclaimed Boston Rock Band, Five of One. He has completed two albums for California-based band Stratosphere and adds his talents to live performances by internationally acclaimed electro-rock group Fallz. He also took part in the soundtrack to the independent film “Easy Listening” which has been recognized at several film festivals internationally. In 2008, Brandon performed with Peter Cetera for a charity event held at Donald Trump’s Mar Lago resort.
In addition to a wide spectrum of performance experiences, Mr. Cruz has always been actively involved as a writer, arranger, and educator. He has written percussion music and arranged for several Miami-area high schools. Between 1995 and 2000, he served as percussion instructor for G. Holmes Braddock, Coral Reef, and Barbara Goleman Senior High Schools. During this time, he regularly performed clinics at several public schools and served as consultant to improve local percussion programs. From 2004 to 2011, he served as Director of Percussion at Charles W. Flanagan High School. With several public performances, his students have entertained thousands locally at events such as the ING Miami Marathon, Pines Day Celebration, and Relay for Life as well as multiple television appearances including nationally televised Monday Night Football and Disney’s annual Christmas Parade on ABC. They have also received performance recognition at the local and state level by the Florida Bandmasters Association. In addition to all that he does locally, Brandon released a series of instructional lessons for drums in 2006 available through www.easymusiclessons.com. In 2010, Mr. Cruz joined the faculty of his alma mater, Florida International University, as Director of Marching Percussion and was hired as Percussion Coordinator for the 2011 Orange Bowl by Bowl Games of America. Since 2008 he has been an adjudicator for the Florida Bandmasters Association and is now a prospective member of the Central States Judging Association.
During his summers, Mr. Cruz served as music director for the Broward Arts Camp from 2004 through 2008, where he fully developed, programmed, and prepared young musicians of all ages and levels for performances at the end of each camp session. Based on that experience, he decided to create the South Florida Rhythm Music Camp in the summer of 2010. Focused solely on percussion, Mr. Cruz spent several weeks in Dade and Broward working with students on an array of technique and performance topics. This year the camp has transformed into the 2011 Summer Workshop Series with five high school programs taking part. In addition to founding the camp, a major focus for Mr. Cruz currently is to create the South Florida Center for Percussive Arts. Scheduled to open in the Fall, the SFCPA will be the central resource for percussion in the South Florida community.
Mr. Cruz received his Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Performance from Florida International University in April 2000. His instructors included John Kapanekas, John Tafoya, Errol Rackipov, Hector Neciosup, Jonathan Joseph, and Ignacio Berroa. He earned his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music in May 2003. He studied with Gary Chaffee, Jon Hazilla, Sa Davis, Jerry Leake, Ken Schaphorst, George Russell, Oscar Stagnaro, Danilo Perez, Dave Samuels, and Jerry Bergonzi. In September 2002, Brandon Cruz was recipient of the Allan Dawson Memorial Scholarship presented by the Boston Jazz Society.