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Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana



Harold López-Nussa Band
Harold López-Nussa's Band - Photo: Paulo Vitale

Ever since he was celebrated as one of the most gifted young pianists in contemporary music at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, Harold López-Nussa has grown by leaps and bounds as a musician. His original work is wonderfully conceived and performed. Mr López-Nussa’s Blue Note debut recording Timba a la Americana is delightfully sprung – melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically – and elegantly shaped to capture his golden toned pianism and adorned with the skin-rippling sensual allure of expressive zestful rhythms of Cuban timba.

Written in the inimitable, youthfully animated style that Mr López-Nussa has come to be associated with, the music achieves an inner purity and a soaring emotional intensity of spellbinding radiance. The momentum is begun on the tumbling groove of Funky, sustained through three more songs down the stretch, and culminates in the exciting item, Conga a la Americana, and onto the album’s apogee – Afro en Toulouse.

Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana
Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana

The thunder-clapping of the conga, and electronically glazed mystic vocalastics by conguero Bárbaro “Machito” Crespo announce what turns out to me an exquisite work. This intro melts into a masterful piano solo by Mr López-Nussa that acts as a bridge to the two rhythmic portions that separate the first half of the song and its montuno-inspired response, highlighted by a superb solo by Grégoire Maret on the harmonica.

Mr Maret is the featured artist on this album and his playing possesses a seamless cantabile and sonic glow that constantly beguile the senses from song to song on this bluesy and jazzy Afro-Cuban programme. His sequence on Tumba la Timba is absolutely stunning. That performance is only upstaged when the musicians slide into the glorious ballad Mamá, the tone for which is set by Mr Maret, of the harmonica who is soon joined in by Mr López-Nussa. The two of them play a stunning duet on a song that is addressed as a love letter to the composer’s [Mr López-Nussa’s] mother.

It is always fascinating to hear how Mr López-Nussa is always at his finest when he plays with his wonderful brother, Ruy-Adrián López-Nussa, a drummer who seems to think like a pianist. This is a rarity and if you listen closely to this music you will surely get a sense of how fastidiously melodic the drummer sounds. For the record he is also a formidable rhythmist, and this partnership seems almost indestructible, no matter which bassist completes the rhythmic team. On this occasion it is Luques Curtis, one half of the fabled Curtis siblings that includes his piano-playing other half, Zaccai Curtis.

This is one of the most well-shaped small-ensemble recordings. Sharply-focused individual acts – led by the magnificently virtuoso Harold López-Nussa and Mr Maret – are supported by eloquent ones by the bassist, drummer, and percussionist. This makes for a magnificently coherent, nobly expressive, beautifully-toned, and refreshingly un-egoistic performance that works on so many levels that it puts many timba recordings in the shade.

Deo gratis…

YouTube Playlist – Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana

Music – 1: Funky; 2: Casa a la Moda; 3: Mal du Pays; 4: Rat-a-Tat; 5: Conga a la Americana; 6: Afro en Toulouse; 7: Tumba la Timba; 8: Mamá; 9: Tierra Mía; 10: Hope.

Musicians – Harold López-Nussa: piano and keyboards; Grégoire Maret: harmonica; Luques Curtis: bass; Ruy-Adrián López-Nussa: drums; Bárbaro “Machito” Crespo: congas and percussion

Released – 2024
Label – Blue Note Records
Runtime – 41:33

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