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Artist Profile: Gastón Joya



Gastón Joya
Gastón Joya

Born in Guanabacoa, Havana City, Ángel Gastón Joya Perellada comes from an artists’ family. He started playing piano when he was only four years old and through his father, who was a double bass player, he learned the electric base. When he was seven years old, he entered the elemental music school “Guillermo Tomas” in the cello specialty. When he was 8, he played the double bass in school bands and later, when he was 10, he started his training in that instrument. When he finished the specialty, he graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Havana’s Higher Institute of Art (2005).

That very same year he started working as double bass player at the Philharmonic Orchestra of Havana’s Great Theater, where he learned the entire repertoire of Ballet and Opera, he accompanied functions of Cuba’s National Ballet, led by Alicia Alonso and different Opera companies.

He was also founder of Havana’s Chamber Orchestra, headed by Iván del Prado (current director of Mississippi’s Philharmonic Orchestra). During the same period, he became a member of the Latin American Philharmonic, led by the legendary master Claude Abbado.

Along those jobs, Gastón was known as part of the alternative music and jazz scene inside the Island, with musical productions or recordings for several artists such as Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, Carlos Varela and Ernán López-Nussa.

In 2006, being 19 years old, he entered the international contest for young jazz musicians, presided by Chucho Valdés, where Gastón won the first place in the category of interpretation. He was the first double bass player receiving that award since the creation of the event. Thanks to that he had the opportunity to record his first album, with Colibrí Label, “Gastón Joya” Phonogram, which had the following awards: best jazz album, recording and mastering and best debut album at the international contest Cubadisco.

Gastón Joya quickly became the avant-garde of Cuban base players and young jazz musicians. In 2010 he was contacted by the Montuno agency, which represents artists such as Buena Vista Social Club, Jack DeJohnette, among others, to work along the Cuban Music Legend Omara Portuondo, both in recordings and tours around the world. Until today, they are still collaborating together.

In spite of leaning towards Cuban tradition at the time, he never got apart from chamber music, as he didn’t either from alternative music productions inside and out the Island. He had the chance of recording and sharing several scenarios with extraordinary musicians such as Leo Brower, guitar player, songwriter and orchestra director, winner of multiple awards, a vanguard representative of contemporary music.

In 2011, he received the call from the master Chucho Valdés to be part of his Afrocuban Messengers band, along which they recorded the Border Free album, nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013. After that work, Gastón started a close musical relationship, touring around the world, getting to know and experimenting a fundamental part of Cuban jazz history. In 2016, Chucho invited him to be a member of a homage to the emblematic Irakere band. After a long tour, they made a live album with which they won the Grammy in 2017.

Gastón Joya currently represents the avant-garde of double bass in Cuban music and Cuban jazz. Heir of the musical roots of his hometown, Guanabacoa, his work distinguish him for setting a link between concert music and popular music.

He has shared scenario and various performances with artists or bands such as Chucho Valdés, Leo Brower, Omara Portuondo, Joe Lovano, Buena Vista Social Club, Eliades Ochoa, Síntesis, Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, João Donato, Mark Levine, Winton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Orchestra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Alfredo Rodríguez, Calle 13, Daymé Arocena, Brussels Philharmonic, Cuba’s National Symphonic Orchestra, Sting, among others.

In 2017, he received the Order for Cuba’s National Culture because of the contributions to his specialty and the conservation of traditions in Cuban music.

Gastón Joya is an artist who seeks the global from his essence, from his work as an instrument’s player, songwriter and musical producer.

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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