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Harold López-Nussa Signs With Blue Note Records

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    Posted: 05 Jun 2023 at 8:10am

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 June 2, 2023
Harold Lopez-Nussa 'Timba a la Americana' artwork courtesy of Blue Note Records

Acclaimed pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa has signed with Blue Note Records and revealed that his label debut Timba a la Americana will be out on August 25.  Described as “a vibrant album teeming with joy and pathos,” the record was inspired by the musician’s recent decision to leave his Cuban homeland to start a new life in France.

Produced by Michael League (of Snarky Puppy fame), Timba a la Americana presents 10 dynamic new original compositions performed by a tight, intuitive band featuring harmonica virtuoso Grégoire Maret, Luques Curtis on bass, Bárbaro “Machito” Crespo on congas, and Harold’s brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums. The album is introduced by the irrepressible and aptly-titled lead track “Funky,” which you can check out below.

López-Nussa has been building a global following over the past two decades since winning the prestigious Montreux Jazz Piano Competition in 2005. He has captivated audiences across the world with his thrilling performances, released nine acclaimed albums and was featured as part of the 2011 all-star project Ninety Miles with luminaries such as Stefon Harris and David Sanchez. Born into a musical family in Havana, his music reflects the full range and richness of the Cuban musical tradition with its distinctive combination of folkloric, popular, and classical elements, as well as its embrace of improvisation.

“I’d been talking with Don for some time when I was still in Havana,” López-Nussa recalls of his conversations with Blue Note President Don Was. “We’d have these discussions just talking about music – records he loves, records I love. Eventually it became about me joining Blue Note. After the contract was done, that was a heavy moment for me. I felt this huge responsibility because of the history of the label. Don totally understood that. He had a lot of confidence in us, which gave us confidence. He wanted us to do what we were feeling, what we wanted to share.”

López-Nussa felt a strong urge to escape the conventional thinking about song form and structure that’s defined Latin jazz since the 1950s. In collaboration with League, the bassist and founder of Snarky Puppy, the two sought new settings for the clave patterns that are the heartbeat of Cuban music. They grabbed elements of danzon, the foundational dance that began in Matanzas in the late 1800s, and the stately son tumbao riffs that frame the songs of Beny More and many more. They worked with ancient bata drum rhythms used to summon the deities, then incorporated them into the choppy polyrhythmic agitations of modern improvising collectives. They linked the catcalling mambos of Dizzy Gillespie and Machito to modern ideas about song structure.

The result is López-Nussa’s most expansive and ambitious work to date, a provocative, lavishly colorful song cycle that amounts to a top-to-bottom modernization of Latin jazz. Cuba provides the anchoring point of origin; from there López-Nussa and his band volley ideas in a spirit of cosmopolitan modernity that transcends regions and genres and eras.

Timba a la Americana also marks the first time López-Nussa has recorded using electric instruments and synthesizers.  The artist says “Michael [League] really encouraged me to explore that this time. We had this nice [Fender] Rhodes and then he brought in some other equipment, and we got really into mixing these electronic sounds. That was directly because of Michael. He understood about my need to respect tradition, but he also picked up on my restlessness. He got me out of being comfortable.”

from www.udiscovermusic.com

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