Known for his high-profile collaborations and for drawing upon Hawaiian, Okinawan, and Afro-Peruvian folk music.
He began playing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1989 when he was 18. He remained with the group until Blakey's passing.
He earned a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album after releasing Áurea, his 2009 CD.
His parents were both music teachers, and he began taking piano lessons when he was three.
He appeared on many TV shows, including Good Morning America and The View, performing with trumpeter Chris Botti and country star Vince Gill.