“Every time I return to Cuba,” says Harold López–Nussa, “I feel something special – not just a connection with my family and friends, but with the place itself. This is where my music comes from, what it talks about.” Born in Havana 35 years ago, this internationally acclaimed Cuban jazz pianist still lives in his native city insisting, “I need the kind of relaxed life that Havana gives me.” López–Nussa who performs alongside his brother is the son of a Cuban musical family that include their father, Ruy López–Nussa, an esteemed drummer and educator, their uncle, Ernán López–Nussa, a prominent pianist, and their late mother, Mayra Torres, a highly regarded piano teacher. Harold López–Nussa studied music since he was eight years old, and was already a graduate of classical piano studies when he begun to explore jazz at eighteen, drawing inspiration from Herbie Hancock as well as from the master of Cuban jazz, Chucho Valdés. Although he was initially scared of jazz as he himself said once, at the age of twenty-two, he won the piano solo first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
López–Nussa‘s work reflects the range and wealth of Cuban music, and the unique way in which it incorporates classical, folklore and popular elements with the fundaments of improvisation and jazz interaction. Being a Cuban artist, music is his way to cross borders and defy obstacles. In 2016, he released an album following President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba at the beginning of a new period of more flexible trade and travel restrictions while his recent album was released in the summer of 2018 as U.S. restrictions regarding Cuba are tightening under the Trump administration. Political and historical turbulences are reflected through his music. “I want to grow closer to the American people,” López-Nussa says. “This has always been an important desire for Cubans, especially musicians. It’s impossible for us to be separate because we have so much in common, so much to share.” Indeed, it is hard to imagine the American jazz scene without the influence of so many Cuban musicians. Meanwhile, musicians like López-Nussa who remain in Cuba, maintain a unique perspective of jazz that is firmly rooted in Cuba’s indigenous cultural traditions. From the Afro-Cuban religious rituals heard around his neighborhood to influences of Cuban son and danzón styles and classic Cuban composers, the rich heritage of his homeland is the heart and soul of López-Nussa’s story, and he tells it with drama, genuine emotion and great skill.
Harold López–Nussa Piano
Ruy Adrián López-Nussa Drums, Percussion
Yasser Morejon Bass
Photo by: PR
Duration of the show: 75 minutes.