Ian Villafana (born February 26, 1957 in Trinidad and Tobago) is a smooth jazz guitarist, recording artist, and songwriter. Villafana currently resides in southern Louisiana near the city of New Orleans.
As the son of a Trinidadian pianist, Villafana was introduced to many styles and genres of music at a young age. His influences ranged from the Beatles to George Benson. He learned from renowned local artists such as Clive Zanda, Len 'Boogsie' Sharpe, Raf Robertson, Earl Rodney, and Toby Tobias. Villafana eventually began recording albums with calypsonians Lord Kitchener, Superblue/Blue Boy, Valentino and Crazy to name a few.
Blending Calypso music and jazz with influences of bossa nova allowed Villafana to form his own unique style. He entertained crowds in Trinidad and St. Croix with solo guitar performances and jazz television/radio appearances. He also played the double bass with Jimmy Hamilton, who is most known for performing with Duke Ellington. While in St. Croix, Villafana made acquaintances with the likes of Ed Cherry and Dizzy Gillespie. Cherry introduced Ian to the methods of Joe Pass, which strongly influenced his playing style.
Villafana initially moved to the United States with hopes of enrolling in the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He ultimately obtained an industrial job and started a family in Louisiana, while playing R&B gigs with local musicians. Villafana's musical career was given a boost upon meeting the musician/producer, Quintin Gerard W. Shortly after performing recordings for Gerard's second album, Gerard inspired Villafana to record his own music. This led to the 2010 release of Epiphany, his first solo studio album.