To perceive the new proclivities of the Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa is to trace his seemingly mystical and musical voyage unto the recording he calls New Day, new and existential dawn arrived at after months of soul-searching in Europe. There he connected it would appear, with the impressionists, while wood-shedding, playing Hammond exercises alongside moody and ponderous music that turned into the likeness of bright joy and laughter and forgetting. There he re-discovered that his heart, in addition to fluttering to the rhythmic invention and elasticity of jazz, also belonged to son montuno and danzon and bolero and to the everyday rhythms of Havana waking up to a new day in the very own paradise of its existence. Drawn thus into the powerful and beautiful energy, and into the colours and the tonal textures of that city that he calls home, Mr. López-Nussa also discovers that as much as his heart belongs to Ravel and Debussy, and to Keith Jarrett and Wayne Shorter it also belongs to the lineage that begat him: to Peruchin and Emiliano Salvador, to Bebo Valdes and to Chucho Valdes, to Hilario Duran and to the long line of older and newer pianists who make up his important Cuban history.
This is not a record of merely dazzling virtuosity; of sublime technique that is transferred from pianoforte to the manipulation of keyboard electronics via the Fender Rhodes. Harold López-Nussa is heard here building geometric architectural shapes as well as shapes so amorphous that there is no telling where these will lead his compositions to. No matter where the music originates; no matter from what chord and key signature, they are tower in exquisite augmentation as well as crumble into diminished shapes only to be re-built into towering musical structures again. This is the mighty music of “New day” and of “Enero”. It is here that it becomes clear that not only is Harold López-Nussa made almost entirely of music, but that he inhabits as much a temporal as he does a spiritual world. Here he makes music that leaps from plane to plane as if it were the playful bounding of an acrobat who discovers the joys of being weightless and thus sets him free in an arena where there are no boundaries. The keys in the board although affixed onto the wood and brass frame of the piano appear to disconnect themselves from this structure and form wave after wave in a seeming ocean of pianistic sound. Notes glitter and sparkle like pearls; like jewels in necklaces of phrases and lines the lope and tumble in elliptical shapes filled with glittering triplets and gorgeous arpeggios and filigreed runs. The complex is made to seem simple at the hands of this extraordinary pianist.
Thus the “New day” is emblematic as well as literal. It is as if Mr. López-Nussa has awoken from and into a dreamlike state that finds him in as well as out of tradition, continuing the pianistic genealogy from whence he comes. Happily he is also joined by his younger brother, the magnificent percussion colourist, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa and together with a bassist of growing stature, Gastón Joya in a trio augmented by the young trumpeter, Mayquel González, the quartet soar to unlikely heights in a musical adventure that is as much that of this monumental pianist as well as the aspirations of each of the other musicians’ as well. New day is one of those records that is filled with new ideas rendered with sublime creativity in an idiom beyond musical borders; a record that must be revisited time and time again in order to enjoy its cornucopia of pleasures that continue to surprise with every listen.
Track Listing: A degüello; Cimarrón; Paseo; Fantasmas en caravan; Otro viaje; New day; Corriendo por los portales; Eso fue hace 20; Buenos modales; Enero; Otro guajiro en Paris; La paz que me domina.
Personnel: Harold López-Nussa: piano and keyboards; Gastón Joya: double bass; Ruy Adrián López-Nussa: drums and percussion; Mayquel González: trumpet.
Label: Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi | Release date: October 2013