Benjamin Lapidus

Headshot: Benjamin Lapidus
  • Professor and Deputy Executive Officer of Ethnomusicology, Music

Research Interests

  • Caribbean music, jazz, musical analysis and transcription.


  • Ph.D. CUNY Graduate Center


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Benjamin Lapidus is a scholar, educator, composer, arranger, and Grammy™-nominated musician who has performed and/or recorded Cuban tres, Puerto Rican cuatro, guitar, and voice on film soundtracks, video games, television commercials, and albums with some of the most notable musicians in Latin music and jazz. Lapidus earned a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the CUNY Graduate Center in 2002. He has published a book on changüí as well as numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed scholarly articles on Cuban and Puerto Rican music, Latin jazz, and salsa. He is currently an associate professor of music and chair of the department of art and music at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

Awards and Grants

  • National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 2016 Grammy™ nomination for Andy González, Entre Colegas: Participation as Guitarist, Songwriter, and Liner Notes Writer.
  • Latinjazz USA, Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 for contributions to Latin jazz and Latin music.
  • National Endowment for The Humanities Faculty Award:  The Sound of Nueva York: How American City and its Residents Shaped an International Sound from 1940-1990. Award period: September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014.
  • 2007 Winner of the BBC Radio 3 Culture Crossing Award. Maurice El Médioni & Roberto Rodriguez, Descarga Oriental, Piranha CD-PIR2003. 2006. Compact Disc.

Representative Publications

  • New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990. (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2021),
  • Origins of Cuban Music and Dance: Changüí (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008).
  • Chinita Linda: Portrayals of Chinese and Asian Identity and Culture by Chinese and non-Chinese in Spanish Caribbean Dance Music,” in Chinese America: History & Perspective, The journal of the Chinese Historical Society of America (2015): 17-28.
  • “Yo tengo sentido, tengo rima: Cano Estremera and the Art of the Soneo,” in Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies Puerto Rican Music: RicanStructing Roots and Routes, vol. 2 (October 2004): 174-182.
  • “The Changüí Genre of Guantánamo, Cuba,” in Ethnomusicology 49(1) January 2005.
  • “¡Toca maravilloso!: Larry Harlow and the Jewish connection to Latin music,” in Mazal Tov Amigos!: Jews and Popular Music in the Americas edited by Amalia Ran and Moshe Morad. Leiden and Boston: Brill Press (2016): 109-121.
  • “Yo soy la plena borinqueña: Ángel Luis Torruellas y la internacionalización de su plena ajibarada,” in Trovadores, sociedades, e identidades en el caribe edited by Darío Tejeda and Carlos Andujar (Instituto de estudios caribeños, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic 2016): 345-351.
  • “Como un milagro: La influencia musical de Juanito Márquez en la canción popular hispana de tres continentes,” in Trovadores, sociedades, e identidades en el caribe, edited by Darío Tejeda and Carlos Andujar (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Instituto de estudios caribeños, 2016): 159-170.
  • “El folclor al rescate: La importancia del folclor musical caribeño en la escena de Nueva York y su impacto en el mundo,” in El folclor musical y danzario del caribe en tiempos de globalización edited by Darío Tejeda and Rafael Emilio Yunén (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Instituto de estudios caribeños, 2014): 123-133.
  • Entre el afinque, folclor y el jazz: Una perspectiva personal sobre la encrucijada de la música caribeña y el jazz y el resultando o posible sistema para calificar el jazz latino,” in El jazz desde la perspectiva caribeña edited by Darío Tejeda and Rafael Emilio Yunén (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Instituto de estudios caribeños, 2012): 129-140.
  • “¡Cuba Linda!: La personificación de Cuba como mujer en las canciones y boleros patrióticos de la guerra de diez años y la guerra de independencia,” in El bolero en la cultura caribeña y su proyección universal edited by Darío Tejeda and Rafael Emilio Yunén (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Instituto de estudios caribeños, 2010): 95-104.
  • “¡Este bongó que te llama!: El changüí guantanamero y las influencias extranjeras en el son cubano,” in El son y la salsa en la identidad del Caribe edited by Darío Tejeda (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic: Instituto de estudios caribeños, 2008): 339-350.
  • “Stirring the Ajiaco: Changüí, Son and the Haitian Connection,” in Cuban Counterpoints: The  Legacy of Fernando Ortiz edited by Mauricio A. Font, Alfonso W. Quiroz, and Pamela Smorkaloff (Lexington Books, 2004): 237-246.

Recordings as a Leader

  • Benjamin Lapidus and Kari-B3, Ochosi Blues, Tresero Productions TP-1107. 2014.
  • Benjamin Lapidus, Herencia Judía. Tresero Productions TP-1106. 2008. Compact Disc.
  • Kaori Fujii and Benjamin Lapidus, Garota de Ipanema. JVC-Victor Entertainment VICP-63789. 2007. Compact Disc.
  • Sonido Isleño, Vive Jazz.  Tresero Productions TP-1105. 2005. Compact Disc.
  • Sonido Isleño, Blue Tres. Tresero Productions TP-1104. 2004. Compact Disc.
  • Sonido Isleño, Tres is the Place. Tresero Productions TP-1103. 2001. Compact Disc.
  • Sonido Isleño, El Asunto. Tresero Productions TP-1102. 1999. Compact Disc.
  • Sonido Isleño, ¿Quién Tiene Ritmo? Tresero Productions TP-1101. 1998. Compact Disc.

Recordings as a Supporting Musician (composer, arranger, guitar, Cuban tres, Puerto Rican cuatro, Cuban laúd)

Film and Video Game Performances

  • Paul Carlon, Tresillo. Deep Tone Records. 2017. Compact Disc.
  • Andy González, Entre Colegas. Truth Revolution Records TRR024. 2016. Compact Disc.
  • Paul Carlon, La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing. Zoho Records ZM201309, 2013.
  • Various Artists, Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest 2009. HNK Records. 2009.
  • Spencer World, Secrets. SpencerWorldMusic 84501157261. 2009.
  • Roberto Rodríguez, Timba Talmud. Tzadik TZA 8140. 2009. Compact Disc.
  • Baby Loves Salsa, Salsa For Kittens & Puppies, (Baby Loves Everything), 2008. Compact Disc.
  • La Mar Enfortuna, Convivencia. Tzadik 8120. 2008. Compact Disc.
  • Almazal, Almazal. 2007. Compact Disc.
  • José Conde y Ola Fresca, (R)evolución. Mr. Bongo Records. 2007. Compact Disc.
  • Maurice El Médioni & Roberto Rodriguez, Descarga Oriental, Piranha CD-PIR2003. 2006. Compact Disc.
  • Sherri Roberts, The Sky Could Send You. Blue House Recordings/Pacific Coast Jazz 70001. 2005. Compact Disc.
  • Ralph Irizarry y Son Café, Bailando con azucar. BKS Records BKS-18902. 2005. Compact Disc.
  • Score, “Anna in the Tropics.” Dallas, Los Angeles, New Mexico productions. 2004. Compact Disc.
  • Cuban Dreams, A Reunion: The New York Sessions. Pimienta/Universal Records 245360549-2. 2004. Compact Disc.
  • Hot Peas ’N Butter, Volume 2: A Second Helping. Hot Peas ’N Butter Inc. 2002. Compact Disc.
  • A Tuba To Cuba. Directed by T.G Herrington and Danny Clinch. 2017. 
  • Jumping with Jess: Un monstruo que no existe. José Luis Motoso Aguilar, dir. Malaga, Spain. 2016.
  • Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla, Todos Estrellas del Jazz Cubano. Cinquillo/Colibri DVD, 2013.
  • Living Along the Fenceline. Documentary, 65 minutes, color, 2011. Codirected by Gwyn Kirk and Lina Hoshino; produced and written by Lina Hoshino, Gwyn Kirk, and Deborah Lee. Distributed by Women for Genuine Security.
  • Video Game Soundtrack, Last Call. Simon & Schuster Interactive/Cutler Creative. 2000. Compact Disc.
  • Film Soundtrack, Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War. PBS/Great Projects Film Company. 1999. 
Headshot: Benjamin Lapidus


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice