Nov./Dec. 2004

XXI Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza ( Havana Jazz Festival )
Concierto de pianistas
Sábado 18 de deciembre 2004 Teatro Amadeo Roldán La Habana
Upon entering the theatre we are asked to go up to the balcony. Inquiries as to the reason reveal that tonight, the orchestra as well as the first three rows of the balcony are reserved for Cuban nationals (??). My first impulse is to argue, but a) my Spanish is somewhat limited and b) I am not that passionate about photographing pianists in concert using available light. So I settle into my fourth row balcony seat. I am looking forward to just listening to the music tonight.

Robert Mitchell & Omar Puentes

Opening the evening program is pianist/composer Aldo López-Gavilán Junco. Aldo is a shining new star in the world of Cuban music. He studied at the Amadeo Roldán Music School. At the age of 17 he made his debut with Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra, playing Prokofiev’s Third Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Tonight he played his own rich compositions. He plays his own flavour of jazz fusion, lots of classical in the blend of course and more than a dash of latin folklore. On some of the pieces he accompanied himself with wordless vocalizations — very haunting. He received a well deserved thunderous round of applause for his performance.

Next on the bill was Wagner Tiso from Brazil. He is a composer, conductor and arranger, whose creations are imbued with a vigorous Brazilian sound expression. The fusion of several musical elements, which shape his compositions – from the gypsy sentimentalism to the baroque style of Minas Gerais – gives this musician a sense of exceptional musicality. After a few solo numbers he was joined by Victor Biglione on the guitar. They played the same tunes they had played during the opening gala, although this time Wagner was sitting at a grand piano.

The third pianist of the evening was Ernán López-Nussa. Born in Havana, Ernán studied classical piano at the prestigious Cuban Institute of Arts. His performing career started when he joined the legendary ensemble Afrocuba, with whom he participated in several recordings. After leaving Afrocuba, he formed Cuarto Espacio with other former members of that ensemble. After that experience, he embarked on a solo career. His performance this evening owed much to his classical training. Flawless technique.

The last pianist to play for us this evening was Robert Mitchell from England. He was joined by Omar Puentes of Cuba on the violin. Theirs was a marvelous program of original compositions that brought the evening's music decidedly back to jazz. It showcased their incredible talent and sensitivity.

One concert, four world-class pianists — another memorable evening!

The winners of the fourth SGAE Awards were announced today. They were:

1st prizeEl Gorgojo by Guillermo Ernesto Reuter (Argentina)

2nd prizeNostalgia by Orlando Sandoval (Columbia)

3rd prizeAzul by Rember Duharte (Cuba)
tied withPa'Eleggua by José Antonio Rivero-Rodriguez (Cuba)

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report and Photograph by
• •
Roger Humbert
for The Live Music Report

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