Michael Spiro

'Mabagwe: A Tribute to the Mayores' - nominated for a 2019 Cubadisco (Cuban Grammy Awards)!



Known for his work in the Latin music field, Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, educator, and recording artist. 

Michael is a ten-time Grammy nominee, and has produced seminal recordings in the Latin music genre such as “Canto América,” “BataKetu,”  “Bata-Mbira,” “The Latin Tinge," and “Grupo Ilu-Aña." His performing and recording credits cover an array of internationally known artists: from such pop artists as David Byrne, Carlos Santana, and Charlie Watts, to Latin music icons Eddie Palmieri, Israel Lopez (Cachao), and Richard Egues, to such jazz luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Hutcherson, and McCoy Tyner. He has an extensive film score resume, and wrote several arrangements for the Tony award winning Broadway show BLAST!

In 2011 Michael was appointed Associate Professor of Percussion at Indiana University, where he has developed the curriculum for Latin music and culture in both the percussion and jazz departments. He has written, performed, and produced several critically acclaimed instructional books and DVDs on percussion, and nine years ago launched two ground-breaking educational websites which offer complete instruction on Cuban and Brazilian percussion over the internet: CongaMasterClass.com and SambaMasterClass.com. Michael continues to be in demand as a guest artist at universities worldwide, and is a frequent presenter at national and statewide conventions of the Percussive Arts Society. 

Michael remains an extremely active recording artist — in 2017 his CD “Canto America” (produced with his long time working partner Wayne Wallace) received widespread international acclaim and was nominated for a 2017 Grammy in the Latin Jazz category. His most recent project “BÁKINI En el Nuevo Mundo” (produced with Joe Galvin) has an official release date of September 21st, 2017, and is further testimony to the depth and complexity of Michael’s recording and artistic skills.

As a performer, he co-leads one of the only remaining charanga groups in the United States, “Orquesta La Moderna Tradición”, and also is the co-director (along with the great Santana percussionist Karl Perazzo) of an “all star” conjunto in the San Francisco Bay Area—“Conjunto Karabali.”  Finally, he holds the conga drum chair in the internationally acclaimed (and 2011, 2014, and 2015 Grammy nominated) “Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet,” which continues to record and perform throughout the United States. 

grammy Nominations

2017 - Michael Spiro and Wayne Wallace, Patois Records

2015 - The Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, Patois Records

2014 - The Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, Patois Records

2012 - John Santos and Grupo Folklorico Kindembo, Machete Records

2010 - The Wayne Wallace Jazz Quintet, Patois Records

2008 - John Santos and Grupo Folklorico Kindembo, Machete Records

2003 - Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Left Coast Clave Records (producer and artist)

1996 - Changuito/Patato Valdez/Orestes Vilato, Round World Records

1989 - Mark Murphy/Viva Brasil, Muse Records

Latin grammy nomination:

2010 - Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Left Coast Clave Records (producer and artist)

Other awards

2012 - Biddle Guest Artist Award, University of Akron

2011 - Best World Percussion Ensemble Award, PAS

2011 - Ida Beam Distinguished Guest Faculty Award, University of Iowa

2006 - Lifetime Achievement Award in Percussion, Monterey Jazz Festival

2001 - Tony Award, Broadway production BLAST!

1996 - Drum! Magazine's 1999 Top 50 Records of All Time: Artist and Producer: BataKetu, Bembe Records

selected performing credits

David Byrne


The Caribbean Jazz Project

Dori Caymmi


Richard Egues

Frank Emilio Flynn

Ella Fitzgerald

David Garibaldi

Gilberto Gil

Giovanni Hidalgo

Ray Holman

Toninho Horta

Bobby Hutcherson

Dr. John

Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge

Machete Ensemble

Bobby McFerrin

Andy Narell

Ray Obiedo

Chico O'Farrill

Eddie Palmieri

Lazaro Ros

David Rudder

Carlos Santana

Grace Slick

Omar Sosa

Talking Drums

Clark Terry

McCoy Tyner

Dave Valentin

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

Charlie Watts