Harold López-Nussa: Te Lo Dije

No matter what setting he is performing in, whenever Harold López-Nussa is engaged in performance you can be rest assured of music where the grace and eloquence of classical technique meets the fireworks of Afro-Cuban tumbao. This is true whether we are listening to the sparkling repertoire of Y Qué!? (So What) by the supergroup El Comité comprising trumpeter Carlos Sarduy, saxophonist Irving Acao, percussionist Yaroldy Abreu, drummer Rodney Barreto, pianist Rolando Luna, and bassist Gastón Joya; or any of his other recordings, the last of which – before this one – was Un Día Cualquiera, which also included Gastón Joya as well as Harold’s brother, drummer and musical doppelgänger Ruy Adrián López-Nussa.

The repertoire of Te Lo Dije, much of which is original, reveals a vivacious and inventive composer who could certainly hold a candle to many of his more illustrious [and celebrated] contemporaries. Indeed these works bridge the stylistic gap between the great Afro-Cubans such as Chucho Valdés and inspirational American Jazz pianists such as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock in a graceful arc that is manifest in the elegant architecture of these musical works on this recording. The Cuban pianist’s writing – especially for the trumpet of Mayquel González – is effortlessly idiomatic: embroidered puckish and sometimes elegiac melodies that find beautiful expression reflected in the trumpeter’s radiant soloing, as well as in the sinuous rhythmic momentum of bass playing of Julio César González and Ruy Adrián López-Nussa’s vivid percussion colourations.

The pianist’s own playing is beautifully virtuosic, with quick-fire flourishes and high-wire figurations such as those you will experience on the music of “To Lo Dije” and “”Van Van Meets New Orleans” – to cite just two examples of the flair and abandon of Mr López-Nussa’s playing. There are also examples of the composer’s adventurous bent of mind – in the charts which he shares with a group of illustrious guests. Vincent Peirani does bring un charme parisien exquis to Michel Legrand’s iconic “Windmills of Your Mind” to complement the authentic clave and colour of Mr López-Nussa’s own pianism.

Harold López-Nussa Quartet
L to R: Mayquel González, Harold López-Nussa, Julio César González, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa. Photo: Gabriel Bianchini

Meanwhile vocalists Cimafunk [on the appropriately funky-dreamy “El Buey Cansado”], Kelvis Ochoa [on “Jocosa Guajira” with a rhythmically mesmeric groove so well suited to Mr Ochoa’s vocalastics] and Randy Malcom [adds rippling percussive grooves to the rumbling rhythms  of “JazzTón”] – each of which performance adds a mischievous charm to Mr López-Nussa’s already-impish music.

All of this – which also includes significant contributions from trombonist Heikel Fabián Trimiño, percussionist José Julián Morejón and keyboardist Jorge Aragón – makes this an album brimful of many wonderful things sounding as if this music is made by many close friends getting together to share one of life’s greatest pleasures, interpreting and improvising music.

Track List 1: Habana Sin Sábanas; 2: Te Lo Dije; 3: Windmills of Your Mind; 4: Lila’s Mambo; 5: El Buey Cansado; 6:  Timbeando; 7: Un Día de Noviembre; 8: Jocosa Guajira; 9: JazzTón; 10: Sobre El Atelier; 11: Van Van Meets New Orleans

Personnel – Harold López-Nussa: piano, keyboards and background vocals [2, 4]; Mayquel González: trumpet and background vocals [2, 4]; Julio César González: bass and background vocals [2, 4]; Ruy Adrián López-Nussa: drums, percussion and background vocals [2, 4]; Vincent Peirani: accordion [3]; Cimafunk: voice [5]; Kelvis Ochoa: voice [8]; Randy Malcom: voice and timbales [9]; Heikel Fabián Trimiño: trombone [9]; José Julián Morejón: percussion [9]; Jorge Aragón: additional keyboards [9]

Released – 2020
Label – Mack Avenue
Runtime – 43:39

Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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