New York, NY – Tuesday, October 17, 2023 – Acclaimed Havana-born, New York-based Dayramir González, marks his 25th year as a professional musician celebrating the sonic continuum linking Cuba to Africa, Europe and the Americas with the release of his forthcoming new album, V.I.D.A. (Release date: April 12, 2024). While González is a nonpareil pianist, he’s first and foremost proud to be a cultural emissary representing Cuban music on the world’s most distinguished stages, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, as well as back home at the Havana International Jazz Festival — where he’ll present pianistic peers such as Emmet Cohen, Manon Mullener and fellow Cubans Ernán López-Nussa and Jorge Luis Pacheco (January 21 – 28, 2024). Later in the year, he appears along with Herbie Hancock at the La Jolla Music Society concert series (April 18 – 20, 2024).
Meaning “life” in Spanish, “V.I.D.A.” for González is an acronym distilling his greatest creative inspirations, standing for Verdad, Independencia, Diversidad y Amor (Truth, Independence, Diversity, and Love). Featuring the next leap in his evolving Afro-Cuban modern rock-jazz sound, V.I.D.A. showcases González at the height of his craft as a composer, pianist, and collaborator with an international cast of players at his side, including conga maestro Pedrito Martinez, vocal star Daymé Arocena, and Havana rapper Edrey “Ogguere” Riveri. The debut single, “Transiciones en Azul – Yemaya,” from V.I.D.A. features Pedrito Martínez on a soaring invocation with Martínez leading a call and response with the coro. “Transiciones en Azul – Yemayá” is set for release on November 10, 2023 with an accompanying music video.
A blast of Cuban funk, the second single “Afro Cuban Soul Rebels” comes out January 26, 2024 and features the powerhouse vocals of Daymé Arocena and Edrey Riveri’s conscious rapping. Available March 22, 2024, the album’s third single, “V.I.D.A. – Soy Cubana,” is a joyous composition that speaks to González’s deep connection to the orisha Oshun, and was inspired by a song from the great 1970’s Cuban rock band Sintesis.
First Single “Transiciones en Azul – Yemayá”
Featuring Pedrito Martínez Out on November 10, 2023
Dayramir González – V.I.D.A. – Featured Compositions
Where Dayramir González‘s previous album, 2018’s critically-acclaimed, The Grand Concourse, included several dozen musicians and a different ensemble on just about every track, V.I.D.A. features a core unit with Dean Torrey on electric and upright bass, Argentine drummer Juan Chiavassa, and Chilean percussionist Christian Moraga on congas, batá drums, and sundry South American implements. V.I.D.A. touches on the breadth of González’s life and embodies the multifarious nature of Cuban culture. With a unique identity as a forbearer of Cuban music, González notes, “I’m Black, I’m Cuban, I’m West African. I’m Yoruba. I studied European classical music. I’m bilingual. I’m a composer, an arranger, an orchestrator. I am a music educator and curriculum owner. I’m a socio-cultural ambassador of Cuba, a Yamaha artist, a father.”
Reaching back to his youth, pieces like “Intro Habana enTRANCé” offers a shout out to his first band Habana enTRANCé. Keeping an eye on players facing the same challenges he did a few decades ago, the piece celebrates “the generation of young Cuban musicians who are in the process of creating their reality as established artists around the world,” he says.
The lithe, introspective “In The La La Land” was inspired by the harmonies of Robert Glasper‘s song, “Rise and Shine.” With hints of his conservatory background, it’s a piece that evokes the unfettered mental space required for creation. Swerving to extroversion, “Palenque” is a searing piece of state-of-the-art Cuban jazz (inspired by the harmonic and melodic layers of “The First Circle” by the Pat Metheny Group). The exquisite lullaby “Rosas & Dahlias” calms things down before they ramp back up with the fierce “The Hook – Olokun,” a torrid piece of Cuban funk that unleashes performance artist, singer, actress, and scholar Jadele McPherson. And in a tribute to a legendary Afro-Cuban pianist and songwriter Bola de Nieve, González renders “El Manisero” with all due reverence.
González comes to his calling by both inclination and birthright. Born and raised in Havana, where his father was renowned Afro-Cuban jazz trumpeter Fabian González, he had an epiphany at 13 years of age while performing for his family. “I saw that if I played this,” he says, singing a melancholy, minor key phrase, “they would become quiet and reflective and kind of sad. And when I did this,” singing the same melodic line transposed to a major key and set to a spritely Afro-Cuban groove, “people would be dancing and smiling. I realized I wanted to have control of those music colors to touch people’s honest emotions.”
Coming up on a Cuban scene rife with transcendent keyboard talent, he decided to carve his own path as a composer and arranger. “That saved my life, finding my voice through my writing and understanding what made me different,” González says. “There are so many pianists out there. I understood if I wanted to be a leader, I also needed to be a creator.”
Including his father, he had the best role models such as his mentor vocalist, percussionist Oscar Valdés, a founding member of the seminal Cuban fusion band Irakere. Recognizing his prodigious talent, Valdés hired the 16-year-old González for his groundbreaking new band Diakara. Winning first place for composition in 2005’s JoJazz Festival in Havana earned González a record deal with Cuba’s national label Colibri, and his debut release Habana enTRANCE won three Cubadisco Awards (the nation’s equivalent of a GRAMMY Award).
He was deep into studies of classical composition and orchestration at Havana’s prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) when his rapidly rising reputation brought González to the attention of piano legend Chucho Valdés – who helped him prepare for Berklee College of Music‘s full-freight scholarship audition. González won a highly coveted spot, becoming the first Cuban national to attend Berklee on a Presidential Scholarship. Valdés continued to keep a close eye on him, introducing González to the New York scene in 2012 as part of Carnegie Hall’s “Voices From Latin America” series. In 2021, González and his band went on to win first place at the DC Jazz Prix and were awarded $15,000.
In many ways, Chucho Valdés opened the territory that González has claimed as his own, combining the folkloric and classical, Cuban dance music and jazz. “At some point, I put myself in the position to try to follow in the footsteps of the great Cuban pianists,” he says. “Which is hard. Chucho for example is one of a kind.”
With V.I.D.A., González spotlights a road map for the future of Cuban jazz. Already deeply engaged with his next project, a solo piano outing exploring works by the piano giants who came before him, particularly Chucho Valdés, Ernesto Lecuona, Ignacio Cervantes, among others, González infuses every undertaking with Verdad, Independencia, Diversidad y Amor, which is to say, V.I.D.A.
Content Source: JP Cutler Media
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