David Virelles’ New Album: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer’s Grove) Vol. I & II

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Igbó Alákorin (a phrase in Yoruba which can be loosely translated as The Singer’s Grove) is the realization of pianist David Virelles’ long-held dream to document the under-sung musicians of his birthplace, Santiago de Cuba. Virelles, who was named the #1 Rising Jazz Pianist in the 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll, is one of the most in-demand pianists on the contemporary jazz scene, recording with the likes of Henry Threadgill, Chris Potter, and Tomasz Stanko. He also has four prior releases under his own name, including Continuum, which topped the New York Times best album list for 2012.

Since leaving Cuba in 2001, each time Virelles returned home he would make it a point to seek out and study with the elders of Santiago’s rich musical heritage, and it is these musicians who he has assembled for this project. Recorded at Santiago’s legendary E.G.R.E.M. – Siboney studios, the album is made up of two distinct projects: “Volume I – David Virelles Introduces Orquesta Luz de Oriente” was conceived for a big band of seasoned veterans to showcase many of the musical styles associated with Santiago, including the music of Electo Rosell (of the legendary Chepín-Chovén Orchestra) and Mariano Mercerón, who were important pioneers in the percussion-propelled Cuban big band sound of the 1930s. On “Vol. II – Danzones de Romeu at Café La Diana,” Virelles reinterprets the piano music of the iconic early-20th Century pianist/composer Antonio María Romeu, exploring his practice of playing danzones accompanied only by güiro. A product of deep historical and cultural research, Igbó Alákorin is another chapter in Virelles’s ongoing pursuit to create music that transcends the boundaries between folkloric and contemporary to reveal only an essence beyond any genre.

This album was made possible by the generous support of The Shifting Foundation. Research for this project was completed thanks to The Diaz-Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection, Florida International University Library.

“What a marvel! Tradition and avant-garde come together in this offering of the highest order. In my opinion, David Virelles is a young virtuoso immersed in research. He knows our African roots with depth. He is an innovator, a perfectionist, and the most creative and advanced of our jazz pianists. Thank you, David, for making us happy and proud, and for updating our traditions. Ashé! Never stop!”Chucho Valdés

credits

David Virelles: piano, chorus
Alejandro Almenares: requinto, lead vocals (3,5,8,9), chorus
Emilio Despaigne Robert: lead vocals (2,7) , chorus
Rafael Ábalos: timbal, guiro, chorus
José Ángel Martínez: bass
Lázaro Bandera: congas
Román Filiú: alto saxophone
René “La Flor” Domínguez: tenor saxophone
Baudelis Rodríguez: baritone saxophone
Abel Virelles: trumpet
José Aquiles Virelles: chorus
Gabriel Montero: pailitas criollas, claves (2,7)
— with John Benitez: bass (5,8)

tracks

1. Bodas de Oro
2. El Rayaero
3. Grato Recuerdo
4. Echa Pa’ Allá
5. Canto a Oriente
6. Un Granito de Arena
7. Sube La Loma
8. Cosas de Mi Cuba
9. Ojos de Sirena
10. Tápame Que Tengo Frío
11. Tira la Cuchara y Rompe el Plato
12. Mojito Criollo
13. Mares y Arenas
14. Tres Lindas Cubanas

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