As with all the previous albums of Harold López-Nussa, this Mack Avenue recording El Viaje attests to the young pianist’s remarkable technical polish and command, as well as his cultivated, highly creative interpretations of music.
A case in point concerns ‘Me Voy Pa’ Cuba’ – both the opening version and the improvised chart at the end of the album. Here the brilliant young pianist’s more direct ebb and flow, detached articulations and subtle harmonic stresses are conveyed with admirable economy. While the improv tapered phrase endings tiny breath pauses and occasional note elongations, together with suave and more rounded phrases, make for a more angular, free-spirited sound.
Harold López-Nussa manipulates his gorgeously-tuned concert to magical effect. Treating the keyboard with utmost respect he luxuriates in the stylish timbre and tonally rich resources of an instrument that seems to have been prepared for his lithe fingers. The pianist’s scrupulous voice-leading and balances between the hands are present throughout the variations in the African themed music. The polyrhymic evocations on ‘Mozambique En Mi B’ are animated and spontaneous. However, the petulant arpeggios on ‘Africa’ inspire greater dynamism and thrust. ‘El Viaje’ engages in gentle yet shapely dialogues between hands and of the other compositions by the pianist, ‘Oriente’ manages to be rhythmically assertive and debonair at the same time. For darker, dynamic touch and octave transpositions try ‘D’ Una Fábula’. And ‘Inspiración En Connecticut’ is more understated and transversal, with a solid left-hand underpinning ends up providing a lilting anchor to its melody-oriented reading.
Editor’s Pick · Album of the Month · Harold López-Nussa: El Viaje
Harold López-Nussa’s telepathic relationship with his brother and drummer Rui Adrián López-Nussa has been the highlight of all of the music he has made so far. Most times they appear joined at the hip, with the drummer echoing in rhythmic terms what the pianist proposes in melodic ones. And just when you thing they might get too comfortable, they switch roles, with Harold López-Nussa striking a percussive pose and Rui Adrián López-Nussa slipping into a masterful, melodic one. On his last album, Habana Paris-Dakar the pianist first teamed up with the Senegalese bassist and heavenly-voiced falsetto, Alune Wade. The trio worked so successfully that Wade has reappeared on El Viaje raising their musicianship to an altogether rarefied realm. They have also brought in star guests: drummer and the brothers’ father Ruy Francisco López-Nussa, trumpeter Mayquel González and percussionists Dreiser Durruthy and Adel González, and this album is now in pianophile heaven.
Track List – Me Voy Pa’ Cuba; Africa; Feria; Lobo’s Cha; Bacalao Con Pan; El Viaje; Mozambique En Mi B; D’ Una Fábula; Inspiración En Connecticut; Oriente; Improv (Me Voy Pa’ Cuba).
Personnel – Harold López-Nussa: piano, vocals; Rui López-Nussa: drums, percussion, vocals; Alune Wade: bass, vocals; Ruy Francisco López-Nussa: drums; Máyquel González: flugelhorn, trumpet; Dreiser Durruthy: tambores batá, vocals; and Adel González: percussion.
Released – September 2016
Label – Mack Avenue Records
Runtime – 54:30