Elio Villafranca Releases New Album: ‘Standing by the Crossroads’

A Note From Elio Villafranca:

Growing up in Cuba, I saw how different religions are intertwined with the cultural fabric of the country. In many of these different religions represented in Cuba, people see the crossroads as a place of great significance. It was the spiritual concept of the crossroads that touched me the most and inspired me to create my second record in a musical trilogy that honors my ancestry and my life as a Jazz artist.

Welcome to my new project, Standing by the Crossroads.

While working on Standing by the Crossroads, I will also be adding to a booklet that will connect you with my music and life in a deeply personal way. I want to bring you along with me as I work on this double album that I am very passionate about. This is a project that speaks about my own life experiences as an artist living in Cuba, and the many crossroads situations that I have encountered throughout my life. While this project will focus primarily on my life, Standing by the Crossroads will explore a universal feeling so many of us have faced when we are looking down two different paths and must decide which one we will embark on.

Join me as I set out on a creative journey to complete the second record in a musical trilogy that has meant so much to me. – Elio Villafranca

Elio Villafranca Releases New Album: 'Standing by the Crossroads'
Elio Villafranca Releases New Album: ‘Standing by the Crossroads’

Two-time Grammy® nominated Cuban jazz pianist, composer, and a 2021 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship Elio Villafranca, has created a new work entitled Standing by the Crossroads. This piece, different than his previous work CINQUE, speaks about his life experiences as an artist, growing up in the small town of San Luis, Pinar del Rio, surrounded by Congolese drums, educated in Russian classical music, while falling in love with jazz. In this project, Elio also speaks about his experiences as an immigrant, living in the US, and the many Crossroads situations he faced in both countries.


In Cuba, religions are very intertwined with the cultural fabric. Santeria, Arará, Abakuá, Congo, Tumba Francesa, Gangá, albeit different, have two things in common— the veneration of their gods and the way in which they see the Crossroads as a place of great significance. In Elio’s case, it was the spiritual concept of the Crossroads that touched him the most. Standing by the Crossroads is a project that speaks about Elio’s own life experiences as an artist living in Cuba, and the many artistic, social, and political Crossroads situations he encountered, either choosing from polarized musical styles or artistic forms of expression, to painful moments in life when he was forced to choose between staying or leaving his country of birth. Unlike Elio’s previous projects, in which he focused on honoring the legacy of historical figures such as CINQUE, these Crossroads experiences served as the source of inspiration for the creation of this new work.

Band Members

  • Elio Villafranca – piano/compositions/ekón/guataca/coros/hand claps
  • Vocalist: Cécile McLorin Salvant
  • Vocalist: Mar Vilaseca
  • Vincent Herring – alto sax/flute/clarinetn
  • Freddie Hendrix – trumpet/flugelhorn
  • Dayna Stephens – tenor sax/bass clarinet
  • Jonathan Kreisberg – electric guitar
  • Domo Branch – drums
  • Edward Pérez – acoustic bass
  • Jonathan Troncoso – bata drums/coros/hand claps
  • Mauricio Herrera – bata drums/congas/bonko enchemiya/coros/moyuba/hand claps 
  • Jason Olaine – coros/hand claps

Special Guests:

  • Guillermo Guillen – Spanish guitar on “Keep the Eyes on the Bull”
  • Jason Olaine and Elio Villafranca – Production 
  • Reece Ewing – co-production
  • Recorded at Oktaven Audio, NYC
  • Charles Muller – Recording engineer
  • Mastered at Sterling Sound
  • Greg Calbi – Master engineer
  • Kevin Le Gendre – Editor

Content Source: Scott Thompson PR
Featured photo of Elio Villafranca by Kasia Idzkowska

Danilo Navas
Danilo Navas
Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, Toronto Music Report. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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