b. 1954, Colon, Panama. Sylvester’s multi-cultural background, his mother is Panamanian mother, his father from Belize, and a grandfather was Jamaican, helped mould a wide-ranging interest in music. From his father’s record collection he heard the jazz of Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane, and this prompted his decision to take up the alto saxophone. At the age of 14, Sylvester led his own salsa band and he also worked with other leaders, mainly his senior by several years, meanwhile studying at the Panama Conservatory of Music. Upon graduation, he decided to broaden his horizons and in 1976 he relocated to Madrid, Spain, working there for the next 10 years. From this base, he toured Europe, often as co-leader of a band with Miguel Chastang. This period found him often opening concerts for artists such as Miles Davis, Joe Henderson and Jackie McLean. Subsequently, Sylvester moved his base to the USA, studying at the State University of New York at New Paltz. While there, he was in Karl Berger’s Creative Music Program at Woodstock, New York, which was then under the artistic direction of Ornette Coleman. Sylvester also studied with Dave Holland, Steve Lacy and Oliver Lake. In the 90s, he led his own quintet in New York.
A forward-thinking alto saxophonist, Sylvester effectively and intelligently combines jazz with Latin music. He has played in bands led by David Murray and Lake among others. His playing is vigorous and thrusting, and he is also an interesting composer and arranger. His group, the Afro-Caribbean Experimental Trio, includes bass player Donald Nicks and drummer Bobby Sanabria.