Revisiting a Legacy: Jazz Road Creative Residencies with Sammy Figueroa

Florida-based jazz percussionist Sammy Figueroa received a Jazz Road Creative Residencies grant to revisit the legacy of his late father, singer Charlie Figueroa. Charlie passed when Sammy was very young, leading to a lifetime of resentment and closed doors. Now in his 70s and a successful musician, Sammy decided to confront his familial trauma head-on and—for the first time in his life—perform and record the music of his father.

To make this happen, Sammy connected with familial and community elders to learn more. And he enlisted the support of a roster of eclectic musicians from a variety of cultures, including Afro-Cuban pianist, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenon, and Brazilian guitarist Munir Hossn, to create a forward-looking melting pot of complementary styles in the spirit of his father's 1950s era New York. The result was an album titled Searching For A Memory (Busco Tu Recuerd), named after Charlie's most well-known song. In addition, Sammy has overcome his trauma of growing up fatherless, and now holds a love and respect for the father he never knew in person, but connected with through their shared music.