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Dec. 14, 2018 | Felix Contreras — Cuba is known as much for their pianists as their percussionists — you’ll see why with this performance.
Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa and his trio open their performance with some help from a recording of famed Afro-Cuban folkloric singer Lázaro Ros. Ros is both a musical and spiritual guide for this performance; the trio dug deep into the ritual music of santeria for inspiration with “Eleguá,” a tribute to one of the Afro-Cuban deities. (Special mention should be made of Harold’s brother, Ruy López-Nussa, on drums, and bassist Gastón Joya, who both fill the spaces between the beats while elegantly leaving breathing room within the performances.)
“Preludio” demonstrates the telepathic connection between these musicians, while subtlety and emotion are not sacrificed for the slower tempo.
“Hialeah” has the recognizable piano riffs — called guajeos — that we can recognize as originating with Cuban dance music, but the trio deftly melds that rhythm to a complex jazz exploration, without compromising its danceable pulse.
“Preludio (to José Juan)”
Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Cameron Pollack/NPR