When relocating to Toronto from Italy in 1996, Sean Bellaviti had little idea of the direction the city’s vibrant musical community would take him. As an aspiring jazz pianist he enrolled in York University’s jazz performance program. There he studied with pianists Mark Eisenman and Richard Whiteman. It was during this time that Sean began to take an interest in and actively study musical traditions from Latin American. Among his many teachers were percussionist Luis “Luisito” Orbegoso and pianist Hilario Duran. Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Sean found the breadth of his training and diverse musical passions to be a definite asset in Toronto’s exciting and highly competitive music scene.
To date Sean has performed, arranged and recorded with a large number of jazz musicians including vocalists Lynn Macdonald, Janelle Monique—You Go to My Head (2008)—and Matt Dusk—The Casino (Fox TV, 2004), Walk of Fame (Global TV, 2003). Sean has also worked and recorded with the large majority of Toronto’s salsa groups including Caché—Looking from the Top (2011), The Toronto Sessions (2006)—Proyecto Charanguero, Moda Eterna, The Lula All-Stars and Lady Son y Articulo Vente—Semillas (2008).
In addition he has also performed with many international salsa performers including Eddie Santiago, Tito Rojas, David Pabon, Tony Vega, Mariano Civico, Ralph Irizarry, Henry Fiol, Luis Felipe Gonzalez, Jimmy El Leon, Cheo Andujar, Gabino Pampini, Herman Olivera and Jimmy Bosch. Sean also fronts his own jazz outfit (the Sean Bellaviti Trio) and salsa ensembles Salsa Norte and Conjunto Lacalu. Sean currently the director of the acclaimed Toronto salsa project Lula All Stars whose debut album Salsa de la Buena was released in May 2015.
Sean’s musical interests are not limited solely to performance. In 2005 he completed a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology at York University and in 2013 received his doctorate in the same discipline from the University of Toronto. Sean’s dissertation, entitled “Negotiating Musical Style in Panama: Nationalism, Professionalism and the Invention of Música Típica Popular,” represents a major contribution to the field of Panamanian cultural studies and popular music studies in particular. Sean has worked extensively as an educator and lecturer at York University, Ryerson University and the University of Toronto. He has presented his work at international academic conferences—including the Caribbean Studies Association and the Society for Ethnomusicology—and is a published scholar.