ABOUT THE BAND

About the BandThe Fuego X-Tet is a 4-to-10 piece band based in NYC. Founded in 2009, it aims to bridge the gap between the musicianship of jazz and the storytelling of hip-hop. The music is strongly influenced by reggae, rock, and funk grooves that are fused with instrumental melodies and improvisation.

Our band has performed in numerous clubs and lounges all over the five boroughs, including Harlem Tavern, Shrine, Silvana, NuBlu, Spike Hill, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Kenny’s Castaways, The Bitter End, Sullivan Hall and Bowery Poetry Club.

We have also traveled out of town to Boston, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and D.C. to perform at other venues, festivals, and universities. Our band members are strong believers in arts education. We have played at Columbia University, the Taft School in Connecticut, and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, among others.

We are available for festivals, concerts, private events, clinics and workshops. Please reach us at our contact page. Enjoy the music!

Freddy “Fuego” Gonzalez – Bandleader

Hometown: New York, NY

Freddy grew up in a musical family. He began playing the trombone at age 13, and gained most of his experience performing in big bands and salsa jam sessions. After two years at Berklee College of Music, he decided to return to New York to complete his undergraduate studies at The New School for Jazz. He graduated with a master’s in Film Scoring from Berklee Valencia.

Directly afterwards, Freddy immediately began touring with Grammy-winning artist Alejandro Sanz. He has opened for Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri, B.B. King, and De La Soul while performing alongside Alejandro Sanz, Jesse McCartney, Bootsy Collins, Arturo O’Farrill, and Melissa Aldana.

Notable venues include the Barclaycard Center (Madrid), El Estadio Nacional (Peru), The Bimhuis (Amsterdam), The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Yankee Stadium and The Blue Note in NYC.

Television appearances include The Today Show, CNN, FoxNews and Noturno in Brazil. Radio appearances with The Fuego X-Tet include WNYC’s Gig Alert in 2014 and WBGO in 2012.

Ian Baggette – Bass

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

Ian grew up listening to everything from The Ohio Players to Sergeant Pepper, but it wasn’t until high school that he was introduced to the bass. After receiving a scholarship to Miami University he was immersed in classical and jazz music. He has played in venues throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa, collaborating with names such as Barius Brubeck, the Roots, Steve Wilson, and Puerto Rican Power. Follow him on Instagram @ianjessee.

Daniel Dor – Drums

Hometown: Tel-Aviv, Israel

Daniel was born to a family of musicians and artists. He graduated from the prestigious Thelma-Yellin High School, Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and is currently completing his studies at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He has attended numerous jazz festivals around the world and received 3 merit grants from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, as well as scholarships from the New School and Berklee College of Music.

Ben Teters – Drums/Percussion

Hometown: New Paltz, NY

Ben is a 2012 graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied drum set and percussion performance with Kenwood Dennard, Mike Mangini, and Mark Walker. His musical style is rooted in funk, soul, blues and reggae, reinterpreted through improvisation and the juxtaposition of ethnic and cultural music traditions. Ben currently plays, records and tours with several different bands in the New York and Boston areas. Check out his website at benteters.com and follow him on Twitter & Instagram @BenjahmonT.

Okai Musik – Djembe/Vocals

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Okai is a self-taught percussionist who discovered drumming at the age of five with two kitchen knives and a bucket. Exposed to a variety of rhythms through his Haitian descent as well as the hip-hop and pop he heard playing on the radio, Okai picked up the drum set, then the congas and finally the djembe. He is passionate about exploring the root of drum music in the cultures of African Diaspora communities. Visit his website at okaimusik.com and follow him @okaimusik.

Julian Litwack – Guitar

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Julian comes from a musical family; he played piano and made music with sampling before picking up the guitar at 17. He trained with his uncle, a professional guitarist, then studied with Peter Bernstein, Mark Whitfield, and Ravi Coltrane. Since 2011 he has performed in the house band at The Red Rooster/ Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem, and with various groups around NYC. He also leads his own band, The Wackness, which blends Jazz, Electronic, and Hip-Hop. Follow him @OfTheSixStrings.

Sam Wagner – Drums

Hometown: Mohegan Lake, NY

Sam Wagner, a.k.a Sammy Wags, is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He is an accomplished educator, leader of the Afrobeat/Jazz group The Brighton Beat and records and performs with many other up-and-coming Jazz, World, Folk and Acoustic artists. Examples of his recording/production work have been featured on radio, network television, and large market video game releases. You can visit his website at www.sammywags.com or follow him on Twitter @mrsammywags.

Francesco Fratini – Trumpet

Hometown: Rome, Italy

Francesco began studying trumpet in a music school at 8 years old. He studied classical music at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome from 2006 to 2009, during which time he took part in the Siena Jazz Foundation summer workshops. In 2010 he moved to New York to attend the New School for Jazz on a full scholarship, where he has had the opportunity to study under teachers such as Reggie Workman, Jimmy Owens, and Gerard D’angelo.

Curtis Stewart – Violin

Hometown: New York City

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Curtis has performed as a soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra, in Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. Curtis’ eclectic background has led him to concerts in many different realms of music, from MTV specials with Wyclef Jean, to stints at the Kennedy center with the Jimmy Heath Big Band. See his work at curtisjstewart.com.

Enrique Mancía – BASS

Hometown: Honduras

Born in Honduras in 1990, Enrique Mancía moved to Spain at the age of 13, where he became interested in music and started playing drums soon afterwards. By the time he was 16 he had become fascinated by the electric bass and its rhythmic and melodic possibilities, and immediately gave up the sticks. He has been playing bass since. Enrique currently lives in NYC, where he performs and records as a session musician while attending the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music along with many of his current bandmates.

Luis Guzman – Bass

Hometown: Morelia, Mexico

Luis hails from a family of musicians in Mexico. He received classical music training at the Conservatorio de las Rosas, and was later awarded the World Tour Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. Luis has a diverse foundation in Latin, Rock, Pop, R&B and Jazz, and has toured internationally at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Montreal Jazz Festival and South by Southwest. Visit his website luisguzmanmusic.com and follow him on Instagram @luisguzmanmusic.

JAMES FRANCIES – PIANO/KEYS

Hometown: Houston, Texas

James began playing the piano at the age of four. He has played alongside several jazz greats and has won many awards recognizing his playing, compositions and arrangements. He has played at world-renowned venues and festivals including The Jazz Standard, The Monterey Jazz Festival, The Kennedy Center, and The Montreal Jazz Festival. He currently attends the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music on a full scholarship. Follow him here on Instagram and Twitter.