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Harold López-Nussa Releases New Single and Video: “Mal Du Pays”

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Harold López-Nussa
Pianist, Composer Harold López-Nussa - Photo by Paulo Vitale

Pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa recently released his new single and video “Mal Du Pays.” The song is from his Blue Note Records debut album Timba a la Americana, out August 25, 2023. The vibrant full-length is teeming with joy and pathos that was inspired by the pianist’s recent decision to leave his Cuban homeland and begin a new life in France. Produced by Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Timba a la Americana presents 10 dynamic new original compositions performed by a tight-knit band featuring harmonica virtuoso Grégoire Maret, Luques Curtis on bass, Bárbaro “Machito” Crespo on congas, and Harold’s brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums.

Rendered with dramatic understatement by Maret, the plaintive theme of “Mal Du Pays” is saturated with the bittersweet longing Brazilians call “saudade.” “That’s me looking back to Cuba,” Harold says. “I’m thinking about our life there, and my friends and the music we made. When I started it was just a little idea, almost like a baroque theme. As I was playing, I remember thinking that we needed to go into very slow rumba, a specific groove I’ve heard my whole life. It’s a pulse from the neighborhood where I was born in Havana – it’s in the religion, in the celebrations, the ceremonies and the parties. A slow-feeling groove, for older people so they can dance. For me that rhythm stirs something deep and melancholy – it’s rumba but it’s a part of something ancient.” 

YouTube Video – Harold López-Nussa: Mal Du Pays

López-Nussa has been building a global following over the past two decades since winning the prestigious Montreux Jazz Piano Competition in 2005. He has captivated audiences across the world with his thrilling performances, released nine acclaimed albums as a leader, and was featured as part of the 2011 all-star project Ninety Miles with Stefon Harris, David Sánchez, and Christian Scott. Born into a musical family in Havana, his music reflects the full range and richness of the Cuban musical tradition with its distinctive combination of folkloric, popular, and classical elements, as well as its embrace of improvisation.

On Timba a la Americana, López-Nussa felt a strong urge to escape the conventional thinking about song form and structure that’s defined Latin jazz since the 1950s. In collaboration with League, the bassist and founder of Snarky Puppy, the two sought new settings for the clave patterns that are the heartbeat of Cuban music. They grabbed elements of danzón, the foundational dance that began in Matanzas in the late 1800s, and the stately son tumbao riffs that frame the songs of Beny Moré and so many others. They worked with ancient bata drum rhythms used to summon the deities, then incorporated them into the choppy polyrhythmic agitations of modern improvising collectives. They linked the catcalling mambos of Dizzy Gillespie and Machito to modern ideas about song structure.

The result is López-Nussa’s most expansive and ambitious work to date, a provocative, lavishly colorful song cycle that amounts to a top-to-bottom modernization of Latin jazz. Cuba provides the anchoring point of origin; from there López-Nussa and his band volley ideas in a spirit of cosmopolitan modernity that transcends regions and genres and eras.

Harold López-Nussa: Timba A La Americana
Harold López-Nussa: Timba A La Americana
Tour Dates:
  • JUN 26 – Ramatuelle, France – Festival Jazz a Ramatuelle
  • JUL 1 – Vauvert, France – Jazz À Vauvert
  • JUL 4 – London, United Kingdom – Ronnie Scott’s
  • JUL 5 – London, United Kingdom – Ronnie Scott’s
  • JUL 7 – Vienne, France – Théâtre Antique
  • JUL 15 – Gent, Belgium – Gent Jazz Festival
  • JUL 22 – Stuttgart, Germany – Jazz Open Stuttgart
  • JUL 27 – San Diego, CA – Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
  • JUL 28 – San Francisco, CA – SFJAZZ Center
  • AUG 5 – North Truro, MA – Payomet Performing Arts Center
  • SEP 6 – Mannheim, Germany – Alte Feuerwache – Halle
  • SEP 7 – Paris, France – Philharmonie de Paris
  • NOV 4 – Boston, MA – City Winery Boston
  • NOV 6 – New York, NY – Blue Note Jazz Club

Content source: Missing Piece Group

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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