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Soraya Stories

From Cuba, with love

By Reggie Quinerly

On February 10 Jazz at Naz audiences will be enveloped in a mesmerizing whirlwind of rhythmic brilliance and harmonic ingenuity. Illuminating this sensory enchantment is a double bill featuring two phenomenal maestros hailing from the culturally rich terrain of Cuba: Eliades Ochoa and Harold López-Nussa. These invigorating musicians stand as two of the most radiant exemplars of artistic virtuosity to have blossomed from this musically fertile island. Their individual and combined prowess coalesce to create an unforgettable concert experience that invites a deeper understanding and appreciation of their vibrant musical heritage. Brace for an evening radiating with ebullient spirit, as the stage echoes with fascinating rhythms, explorative harmonies, and dynamic storytelling.

Eliades Ochoa is a revered figure in the global music scene. His enchanting blend of traditional trova and vibrant son cubano has solidified his place as a titan of traditional styles. Ochoa has an exceptional ability to play the twelve-string guitar, paired with his distinctively raw, baritone voice, gives his music an unmistakable uniqueness praised by both audiences and critics. A pivotal moment in his early career came in the ’60s with his affiliation to the “Casa de la Trova,” a highly respected music venue in Santiago de Cuba. This association fostered Ochoa’s artistic growth and the maturation of his unique interpretation of the traditional son genre. Although he had already achieved international recognition, his remarkable contribution to the album “Buena Vista Social Club” further fortified his status in the global music scene. This landmark endeavor, which sought to spotlight Cuban styles such as son, bolero, and danzon, brought together some of Cuba’s most influential musicians. Ochoa made a significant impact alongside these esteemed artists, with his composition “El Cuarto de Tula” being one of the album’s notable highlights. The global success of “Buena Vista Social Club” etched not only Ochoa’s name but also the allure of Cuban music onto the world stage.

Born into a Havana lineage of musical virtuosos, López-Nussa’s journey from a classically trained pianist to an internationally recognized jazz sensation speaks volumes about his exceptional skill and artistic versatility. He spent his formative years learning piano at the Escuela Nacional de Artes and Instituto Superior de Artes, where he cultivated a deep-rooted understanding and appreciation of classical music. However, his distinctive Cuban heritage, rich with vibrant melodies and rhythms, ushered him onto a path of exploration that culminated in a dynamic fusion of classical music, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and jazz. He received further acclaim when he triumphed in the solo piano competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2005. This achievement garnered international attention, propelling him to the forefront of a new wave of Cuban musicians entrancing the global audience with their innovative renditions of traditional Latin American music.  His most recent project, “TIMBA A LA AMERICANA”, is an exquisite blend of vivacious Latin jazz and traditional rhythms.  This project serves as a dynamic showcase for López-Nussa’s impeccable pianistic prowess, while also being a testament to his island nation’s rich musical heritage.


Reggie Quinerly Jazz at Naz Virtual Host

The Soraya 2023-24 Season | Listen on Spotify

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