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Dexter Stanley-Tauvao

Dexter Stanley-Tauvao is a Sāmoan jazz drummer, composer and educator currently based in New York, USA. Born in Wellington, New Zealand,

Dexter studied at the New Zealand School of Music and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz with First Class Honours.

His musical career has taken him to Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, the USA and Germany, and he has performed alongside jazz icons such as Alex Sipiagin, Antonio Hart, Rufus Reid and Scott Wendtholt. While he is most passionate about big band and straight-ahead jazz, (Alex Sipiagin, Roberto Manzin, Umar Zakaria, New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra, Lauren Nottingham) he also loves Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, funk, indie-pop and folk music. Dexter’s willingness to learn has led to engagements with a wide range of musical ensembles, including:


  • Opeloge Ah Sam Quintet, playing contemporary Polynesian jazz based on Sāsā, Siva and funk-fusion

  • Umar Zakaria Quartet, playing standards, arrangements, and Malay-inspired jazz originals 

  • Bohemian Thought, playing Fela Kuti-inspired Afrobeat with spoken word poetry

  • Garáge Latino and C-26, Colómbian/Perúvian bands playing cumbia, salsa, merengue and guáguanco

  • Idhayam, an Indian-Jazz Fusion band playing Carnatic music based on Indian Konnakol and Raga

  • Mark Eden, an Australian alternative rock trio who had tours across Europe and performances with the BBC (England) planned until the Covid-19 pandemic


In 2022, Dexter Stanley-Tauvao won a Fulbright General Graduate Award,

giving him the opportunity to pursue a Master of Music in New York City.

He is currently studying with Dennis Mackrel (Count Basie, WDR Big Band, Danish Radio Big Band), Antonio Hart (Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Holland Big Band) and Michael Mossman (Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Horace Silver), and plans to perform and teach in New York, Berlin and New Zealand over the next few years. Dexter is a recent addition to the roster of the Grammy Award-winning Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by Arturo O’Farrill.


As well as a lover of performance and composition,

Dexter is a passionate educator, who finds joy in teaching and helping students to discover their talents and possibilities in music. He has coached jazz ensembles as a guest artist, directed choirs and taught private drum lessons in:


  • New Zealand: El Sistema Whangarei, Kaitaia College, Rātā School of Music, Opononi Music Camp

  • Asia: The University of Macau

  • Europe: Berlin Cosmopolitan School, Home Music Teachers Germany, and

  • USA: American Samoa Community College, Queens College Arts Teaching Artist


He considers himself very fortunate to have a career in which he plays with and inspires musicians around the world, and is always ready to learn, share and continue his musical journey wherever it takes him next!


Dexter plays Bosphorus cymbals, Meinl sticks and RegalTip brushes.

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Dexter Headshot_edited.jpg

Photo: Bridget Kinneary, Austin, TX 2021

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