Harold López-Nussa is a dynasty not only in Cuba, and ever since Ninety Miles (Concord, 2011), a recording that was facilitated by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Christian Scott and tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, it is also a household name wherever aficionados come together to listen to great music. Many who listened to that music and watched its viral video on YouTube were struck by the pianist and his drummer brother that gave the music its signature sound just as a certain, celebrated Habana (Verve, 1998) album by Roy Hargrove’s Crisol suddenly reawakened the Jazz world up to Cuban musicians such as Chucho Valdés and Miguel “Angá” Díaz among others and, of course the recordings of Jane Bunnett had done likewise for many more Cuban musicians, such as Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Harold López-Nussa: Un Día Cualquiera
But there was – and continues to be – something magnetic about that Ninety Miles album; an urgency to dig deeper, into the music and musicians who played on it and if you did then you would not be alone if you were not mesmerised by the musicianship of the young pianist Harold López-Nussa and his brother Rui Adrián López-Nussa. His father Ruy Francisco López-Nussa, and his uncle Ernán Lopez-Nussa are musicians. His late mother, Mayra Torres, was a renowned piano teacher in her lifetime. But it is the younger siblings Harold López-Nussa and Rui Adrián López-Nussa who have made the family a household name outside Cuba, starting in France, where they have lived and recorded for a time.
It is impossible not to be riveted by the music of Harold López-Nussa and drum-playing brother Rui Adrián López-Nussa. The pianist, by his own admission, has suggested that the drummer is something of the other half of his heartbeat and, indeed, their music – this music of Un Día Cualquiera – confirms, as does the music of the several other recordings before it. Few other pianist-drummer duos have displayed such an ability to match melody to rhythm and music to poetry as if one was created expressly to glorify the other. As the music here has been distilled into a trio performance the hypnotic relationship between the two musicians appears even more heightened and reaches even more astonishing depths with Harold López-Nussa often leaning on the sustained pedal of the concert grand he plays often for longer moments in time during his melodic explorations. Then there is the characteristic manner in which his thundering left-hand chords draws in Rui Adrián López-Nussa; and the drummer responds with bright splashes on the cymbals and rumbling ton-ton tom and timpani.
The album is, almost tauntingly, entitled Un Día Cualquiera but the music is hardly the work of a trio playing on “any given day”. Here are three musicians –a trio that also includes another young virtuoso contrabassist, Gaston Joya – who complete each other’s statements and musical sentences. From the explosive effervescence of “Cimarrón” to the graceful danzón pirouetting movements of “Una Tarde Cualquiera En París”, and the equally balletic swirling of “Ma petite dans la Boulangerie” and “Y la Negra Bailaba” each of the pieces is a ripe creation stuffed with long melodies of effortless lyricism; perfectly balanced compositions from end to end. And every player is accorded an equal bit of these exquisite confections. Each unfolds like an immensely attractive journey of musical discovery, with rippling pianism, and riotously coloured harmony and rhythmic palettes – executed with delicate and dazzling flourish depending on the melodic requirement. Un Día Cualquiera unfolds in a winning account full of wit and sparkle as Harold López-Nussa, Gaston Joya and Rui Adrián López-Nussa once again sparkle with an amazing rapport between each other which yields predictably brilliant results.
Track list – 1: Cimarrón; 2: Danza de los Ñáñigos; 3: Una Tarde Cualquiera En París (to Bebo Valdés); 4: Preludio (to José Juan); 5: Eleguá; 6: Hialeah; 7: Ma petite dans la Boulangerie; 8: Y la Negra Bailaba; 9: Conga Total/El Cumbanchero; 10: Contigo en la Distancia; 11: Mi Son Cerra’o
Personnel – Harold López-Nussa: piano; Gaston Joya: bass; Rui Adrián López-Nussa: drums and percussion
Released – 2018
Label – Mack Avenue Records
Runtime – 48:23