Hilario Durán makes a triumphant musical homecoming with his newest album, “Contumbao.” Internationally recognized as a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader of the highest order, the Cuban-Canadian has been based in Toronto for the past two decades. However, his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth.
With his mission to create another compelling entry to his already a rich and rewarding discography, Hilario returned to Cuba last November, to record in Havana’s famed EGREM recording studio, with his long time musical friends such as Chucho Valdes, Horacio “El Negro”, Pancho Amat and more.
Hilario Durán’s “Contumbao” explores the entire spectrum of Cuban music with the authenticity and vibrancy of Durán’s unique musical vision.
On this much-anticipated solo release, the multi-JUNO-winning pianist and composer highlights the richness of Afro-Cuban jazz and makes a major contribution to the genre.
“The music of Hilario Durán has become a supreme means of romantic self-expression, but whereas his great contemporary Chucho Valdés used the piano to create almost heroic self-portraits and vast panoramas, Hilario Durán is more of a sublime introvert and a miniaturist, infusing conventional forms such as the Bolero and the Danzón with an intimacy and an emotional intensity that can only be described as ‘the poetry of feeling’. This pervades all of the glorious music on Contumbao and while Hilario Durán puts an emphasis on long unbroken lines in the right hand his left hand backs them up with devastatingly intense bass lines – heard to great effect in, for instance, the especially poetic slow movements of “Guajira 2016”. What marks them out as uniquely his own is the way Mr Durán decorates a simple phrase not as ornament for ornament’s sake but as the expression of deeply felt emotion. “Duo Influenciado” towards the end of the disc captures all of this in an exquisite duo performance with Chucho Valdés, incidentally one of Mr Durán’s greatest admirers, as it also draws an invisible line between the styles of the respective grandmasters.” — Raul da Gama, Senior Writer, Latin Jazz Network
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Hilario Durán – Biography
Cuban born Hilario Durán grew up in Havana in a musical family surrounded by a variety of diverse musical influences on a daily basis. He began working as a professional musician in Cuba’s Los Papa Cun-Cun Ensemble and in a variety of musical formats. Later on, in the 70’s, Durán was Chucho Valdés’ chosen successor in Cuba’s most modern big band, Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna.
Hilario Durán toured worldwide and performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Michel Legrand, among many others, as part of Arturo Sandoval’s band where he was pianist/keyboardist, arranger and musical director for 9 years.
Chucho Valdés has acknowledged Hilario Durán as one of the greatest Cuban pianists of the 20th century, calling the Grammy-nominated and multi JUNO-award winner “an unparalleled pianist, composer and arranger of the first order”.
After making his mark in Cuba, Durán continued to hone his skills as a pianist, composer, arranger and musical director of remarkable virtuosity. Since arriving in Canada, Hilario has made a name for himself, he is a multi-Canadian Juno Award winner and nominee; an American Grammy nominee; a multi-Canadian National Jazz Award winner & nominee; and the proud recipient of the 2007 Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award, from Latin Jazz USA, for his outstanding contributions to Afro-Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz.
Cuban-Canadian jazz pianist Hilario Durán is a fixture on the Toronto music scene. Durán immigrated in 1998 to Canada and was named as One of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians in 2009; in addition, Hilario has been named Best Artist of the Year 2013 by the Toronto Musicians’ Association and also as 2014 Best Vision Award Winner (Premio a la Trayectoria) for his work as entrepreneur as a director of his musical company, ES MI MUSICA PRODUCTIONS. He is also an educator at Toronto’s Humber College, acting as a piano teacher and ensemble director.
Hilario Durán has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth. He has continued to collaborate with Cuban musicians, but he takes this to another level on Contumbao. Last November, Alma Records’ Peter Cardinali and award-winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey accompanied Durán to Havana, and the team set up shop in Cuba’s famed EGREM recording studio, the most storied such facility on the island. The cast of musical heavyweights assembled in Havana work their magic on 11 new Durán original compositions. Hilario’s mission is certainly fulfilled here, as Contumbao has an impressive dynamic range of different tempos, tones and moods.