The Lockdown Album is Jorge Luis Pacheco’s Ropeadope debut – a beautiful reflection of our shared experiences of the early twenties

Hailing from Havana, Cuba, Jorge Luis Pacheco is one of the leading pianists and musicians of the new generation of jazz in Cuba. Winner of the Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition in Switzerland, Pacheco is a fiery young pianist with “flying hands.” He has performed all over the world including in prominent jazz clubs such as Dizzy’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, theaters, and festivals such as the Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York, The Piano Night in the House of Blues at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary and the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel among others.

He has also performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington several times as well as the legendary Apollo Theater where a lifetime achievement award was presented to Herbie Hancock. He has collaborated with the likes of Wynton Marsalis and the JLCO, Arturo O’ Farrill, and the legendary Lenny White as well as with Dave Weckl and Richie Goods as a trio in 2018. Pacheco is a passionate, extravagant, exciting entertainer on stage and constantly captures the audience’s attention with his heartfelt performances and electric energy. Pacheco was the winner of the JoJazz Award in Havana and in 2017 he won the Best Solo and Performance Award in the Jazz Competiton “Made in New York” in New York City with one of his own compositions – “Con el Pache me Voy”. Pacheco also has a Master’s Degree in Composition from the Instituto Superior de Arte de La Habana.

Pacheco is a virtuoso pianist, composer, arranger, percussionist and singer. Monty Alexander exclaimed that he “defies genre” – often playing Cuban jazz, traditional Cuban music, original film scores, and a new Symphony for Jazz Quartet and Symphony Orquestra that he composed, which is inspired by the music of South America and Afro Cuban Music. Pacheco showed the audience a range of different sounds from the most classic, performed by the Symphonic Orchestra to the most contemporary by the Jazz Quartet, where both joined together to achieve a balance between musical worlds.

The Lockdown Album is Jorge Luis Pacheco’s Ropeadope debut – a beautiful reflection of our shared experiences of the early twenties. The album is a beautiful presentation of his talent and style, with a modern Cuban flavor that defines the current and future iterations of Cuban style. ~Bandcamp

Jorge Luis Pacheco – Piano, Keyboard, Synthesizer, Voice
Helmut Reuter – Bass
Thomas Hempel – Drums
Anna Rabea Pacheco – Voice (songs 4 and 7)
The Twang – Chorus (song 5)

Christian Rollwage – Sound engineer, recording, mixing, and mastering
Photos by Angel Candeaux

Release Date: May 13, 2022

Pianist Martin Bejerano Releases Fourth Album, #CubanAmerican

The Miami native has been highly in demand as a sideman to GRAMMY-nominated Roy Haynes’ Fountain of Youth Band, As Well As Russell Malone, Dafnis Prieto, Roxana Amed, Ignacio Berroa & Many More

Fifteen years after the release of Evolution/Revolution, his first album as a leader, keyboardist, composer, and arranger Martin Bejerano still insists that he is not a great Latin piano player. His growing legion of fans, however, would respectfully yet adamantly disagree. Yes, his straight-ahead jazz chops dazzle with renewed energy and his way with a ballad is more than just arresting. But there’s no denying that he has come to terms with the special obligation he has to represent his Cuban heritage through his performances.

“I’m not someone who is satisfied with doing just one kind of music,” Martin readily admits, pointing to the broad stylistic diversity represented by the 10 tracks that make up the beguiling program of #CubanAmerican, his fourth release as a leader. Significantly, he is joined by the same two rhythm section partners who have been with him since the inception of his trio in 2007 – an example of longevity that’s rare in jazz today. Havana-born drummer Ludwig Afonso has performed with an eclectic group of artists, from Spyro-Gyra to guitarist Richard Bona and pianist Hector Martignon, while Edward Pérez is a first call bassist in New York City who has immersed himself in jazz, Brazilian, Afro-Peruvian, and Latin jazz styles and has performed with Paquito D’Rivera and Lee Konitz, among other notables. On several tracks, the presence of Colombian percussion whiz Samuel Torres adds extra rhythmic fire.

Born in Miami to a North American mother and a Cuban father, Martin began to show some interest in the piano when he was six years of age, picking out some tunes played by his mother. But it was not love at first sound. He preferred to spend his idle time playing baseball with his friends and dreamed about playing the drums. His mother put her foot down and offered her son a deal. If Martin would agree to take piano lessons for a year, he could switch to drums if, at the end of the year, he remained uninterested in the instrument. Happily, his mother’s intuition proved to be infallible, and the career of a budding keyboard talent was launched.

Growing up, Martin’s interest in music was fostered by both parents. His mother was particularly influential. Her great love was big band music, and Martin was exposed to the sounds of swing-era icons. He played trumpet as a youngster and began to solo on the instrument in junior high school long before he had an opportunity to solo on piano. He was infatuated with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, who was then at the peak of his fame. He concedes that he was more drawn to horn players in high school than pianists. One that captured Martin’s attention was the hard bop saxophonist Charlie Rouse, noted for his collaboration with Thelonious Monk. Ironically, his knowledge of pianist Keith Jarrett came not through jazz sources but through his classical piano teacher. Martin admits that the first time he played a montuno – the repeated rhythmic pattern played on the piano in Afro-Cuban music – was in his high school jazz band.

By the age of 15, Martin was considered a professional, performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Mexican American Bi-National Symphony. He graduated from the esteemed New World School of the Arts and received a full scholarship to attend Florida State University. Martin earned a master’s degree from the University of Miami and today heads the jazz piano department at the university’s Frost School of Music.

An early 2000s tenure in New York City led to innumerable opportunities to perform with a succession of A-list jazz artists, further enhancing Martin’s reputation. Notably, he was engaged to perform, tour, and record with the quartets of guitarist Russell Malone and drummer Roy Haynes. Both associations proved to be long-term and further burnished Martin’s reputation as an accomplished pianist at home in both mainstream and Afro-Cuban settings.

The songs on #CubanAmerican reflect the pianist’s inherent curiosity and unique way of building a repertoire. “Ay Cosita Linda” (Oh Pretty Thing) and “Mi Cafetal” (My Coffee Plantation) are tunes that, although wildly popular in Cuba 70 years ago, were not of Cuban origin. Rather, they were penned by Colombian composers and originally set to rhythms not inherently Cuban. Martin’s circuitous methodology here is ingenious as he gives these venerable tropical music hits new life, transforming them into something thoroughly contemporary and compelling. His composition “Yo No Bailo” (I Don’t Dance) is a poignant admission that first impressions can be deceiving. “Origin Story” modulates between dreamy soundscapes and seething Afro-Cuban percussive jams, propelled by a relentless bass tumbao (ostinato). Curiously, he originally intended the session to be totally acoustic, but after critically listening to the takes, he realized the program “didn’t hit hard enough.” The solution? The 47-year-old musician added synthesizer voicings of various complexities on six of the session’s tracks, creating orchestral depth and well-focused energy that serve the date well.

Throughout #CubanAmerican Martin’s playing is unwaveringly virtuosic and joyous, sumptuous, and impassioned. And, as he reminds us once again, “It’s not Cuban music and not American music. It’s Cuban American music.”

Trumpeter/composer Adam O’Farrill – Visions of Your Other – Out November 12th on Biophilia Records


Coproduced by O’Farrill and Curtis Macdonald
with Xavier Del Castillo (tenor sax),

Walter Stinson (bass), Zack O’Farrill (drums)

After garnering high acclaim for his previous outings Stranger Days (2016) and El Maquech (2018) — plus sideman credits with trailblazing artists Mary Halvorson, Anna Webber, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kevin Sun, and more — Adam O’Farrill (#1 Rising Star trumpeter, 2021 Downbeat Critics Poll) is proud to release the third album from his quartet Stranger Days, Visions of Your Other. The group’s musical language continues to evolve with a new member as of 2019: tenor saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo, filling the formidable shoes of tenorist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown as he joins bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Zack O’Farrill in the fold. “Xavier is deeply inquisitive, as an artist and a person,” O’Farrill says. “Walter, Zack, and I had built a strong foundation on principles of rawness and spontaneity, and Xavier brings a slightly more analytical approach, revealing to me layers of the music I didn’t even know were there.”


Visions of Your Other highlights the band’s creative growth with a set of four O’Farrill compositions (“Blackening Skies,” “Inner War,” “Ducks,” the D.H. Lawrence-inspired “Hopeful Heart”), an abstractly funky reading of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “stakra,” and a piece by Stinson (“Kurosawa at Berghain”) that “merges the propulsive rigidity of house music with the amorphous sound of the chord-less quartet,” O’Farrill notes. The album title stems from a line of dialogue in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master (starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman) that O’Farrill found seductive: “The visualization of potential scenarios — past, present, and future — is a very powerful current in all of us. It can motivate us just as easily as it can delude us. This theme of juxtaposition has been at the core of my work thus far, and this album is no exception.”


On the opening “stakra,” from Sakamoto’s evocative 2017 album async, O’Farrill builds texture and mood with a 20-second electronic sample of the quartet’s performance fed through Paulstretch, a sound design software application used by Sakamoto and other composers. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Sakamoto’s async album changed my life,” declares O’Farrill. “It made me rethink all of the elements of music and the way they’re prioritized. I realized that melody can involve many possibilities, and that texture is not just that — it can actually be the musical protagonist. It’s fair to say it will take a long time to fully process the impact that async has had on me.”

“Blackening Skies,” accompanied by an animated film short from German artist Elenor Kopka, is “both apocalyptic and humorous,” says O’Farrill, who composed the song after a brutal New York heatwave and an experience of summer monsoons in Los Angeles. “I told Elenor all this and she showed me the work of Hieronymus Bosch, using that as a reference point for the tone of the piece.” The staggered staccato rhythms in the horns as they play slightly out of sync is “a concept that Xavier and I have explored in previous projects, such as my large ensemble piece ‘Bird Blown Out of Latitude.’ It’s inspired by electronic music, trying to humanize something very mechanical. There’s a perfection to a lot of electronic music that allows for its ideas to be flexibly interpreted by live instruments, which opens up an exciting and endless world of sound.”

The son of GRAMMY-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill and grandson of legendary Cuban bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Adam O’Farrill has received composer commissions and grants from The Jazz Gallery, The Shifting Foundation, Metropolis Ensemble, and ASCAP. He co-led the O’Farrill Brothers Band with his older brother Zack on the albums Giant Peach and Sensing Flight. He continued his rise with Rudresh Mahanthappa on Bird Calls, as well as appearances on Mary Halvorson & Code Girl’s Artlessly Falling, Anna Webber’s Idiom, Arturo O’Farrill’s …dreaming in lions…, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown’s Imagery Manifesto, Stephan Crump’s Rhombal and more. He can also be heard on recent releases by Glenn Zaleski (The Question), Tarun Balani (The Shape of Things to Come), Gabriel Chakarji (New Beginning), Onyx Collective (Lower East Suite Part One), and Aaron Burnett & The Big Machine (Jupiter Conjunct), among others.

RELEASE DATE: November 12th, 2021

Just in case, you missed it…Trombonist Nathaniel Cross’ smokin’ debut ‘The Description Is Not The Described’ is on target

First Word Records is incredibly proud to welcome Nathaniel Cross to the label, here with his debut solo EP ‘The Description Is Not The Described’. Once dubbed ‘the Quincy Jones of Catford‘ by Rolling Stone magazine, the South Londoner has been a prominent force behind the scenes for several years now as an arranger and trombone player. His skill set has seen him perform and record with a wide range of luminaries including Solange, Emile Sande, Stormzy, Zara McFarlane, Kano, David Murray, LCSM, Swindle, and Macy Gray to cite a few, additionally to working on both of Moses Boyd’s albums, including the Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Dark Matter’. Growing up in a musically focused family, Nathaniel has been playing the trombone since the age of 10 and studied at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Two decades since first picking up the trombone, it’s now finally time for Nathaniel to release his own compositions into the world. So to the EP – a four-track instrumental opus that falls within the cracks of contemporary jazz, whilst encompassing a wide range of black music sub-genres that he heard growing up in a British-Caribbean household. ‘The overview for this EP at the core of each track is jazz arranging, but disguised under a range of styles of music from the black diaspora’ says Nathaniel. Sonically, the full-set threads in strains of Bruk, calypso, dancehall, neo-soul, hip hop, gospel, Afro-Cuban, and West African music. The title itself ‘The Description Is Not The Described’ comes from a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti. In Nathaniel’s words ‘the title is a reflection of where we are in the world today. So many of us are caught up in labels and descriptions that we end up looking at people for WHAT they are, rather than embrace them for WHO they are. No matter how detailed the description is, it will never capture the essence.

The EP’s track subjects encompass a range of topics, from grief and loss (‘Goodbye For Now’, dedicated to Nathaniel’s late father), to overcoming the trials and tribulations of life (‘Charge It To The Game’), to remaining positive in challenging times (‘Light In The Darkness‘), to looking for validation internally instead of externally (‘Who Looks Inside, Awakes’, named after a Carl Jung quote). ~Editorial Review | Amazon

At your leisure, spin this gem “THE DESCRIPTION IS NOT DESCRIBED” by trombonist/composer Nathaniel Cross


NOTEWORTHY: Caribbean Tinge : Live from Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola by pianist/composer Elio Villafranca

Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable Cuban pianists, composers, and bandleaders that for several years have been making major creative contributions to the international development of modern jazz. In the 2010 Grammy Awards, he was nominated in Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year, for his performance, composition, and coproduction in the album Things I Wanted To Do by Chembo Corniel.

He has released three albums as a bandleader that were each well received. His album The Source in Between remained in the top 10 of the JazzWeek World Top 50 Chart for eleven weeks, and his first album Incantations/Encantaciones was ranked amongst the 50 best jazz albums of the year by JazzTimes magazine in 2003. In 2008 Elio Villafranca was also nominated by The Jazz Corner as the pianist of the year and he received the Jazz Twirlie Nomination by Dick Crockett, of ‘The Voice‘ at 88.7FM, for his album The Source In Between.

That year, Mr. Villafranca was also honored by BMI with the BMI Jazz Guaranty Award and received the first NFA/Heineken Green Ribbon Master Artist
Music Grant for the creation of his Concerto for Mariachi, for Afro-Cuban Percussion, and Symphony Orchestra. Villafranca was also a pianist in the CD La Guerra No by John Santos Y El Coro Folklorico Kindembo, which was nominated in the 2010 Grammy Awards as Best Traditional World Music Album. Over the years Elio Villafranca’s music has featured jazz master artists such as Pat Martino, Jane Bunnett, Terell Stafford, and Eric Alexander, among other notable instrumentalists.

Elio has also performed nationally and internationally as a leader of his quartet, and as a sideman, he has collaborated with leading jazz and Latin jazz artists
including: Wynton Marsalis; Jon Faddis; Sonny Fortune; Giovanni Hidalgo; Eddie Henderson; Miguel Zenón; Cándido Camero; and Johnny Pacheco.
Villafranca has toured Europe and has performed at various world-renowned venues and events including the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent, Belgium; at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Milan and the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy; at the North Sea Jazz Festival at The Hague, Holland, the Guinness Jazz Festival and a national tour of Ireland. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

At your leisure, if you dig Latin Jazz this album is a must-listen-to by Elio Villafranca

Kenny Garrett Recalls the Sounds of West African Music and its Role in Jazz, Gospel, Motown, Hip-Hop, and More


Sounds from the Ancestors, Available August 27 via Mack Avenue Records

Acknowledges Ancestral Roots with Cosmopolitan Album that Both Incorporates and Defies the Jazz Genre with Stellar Contributions from Vernell Brown, Jr., Corcoran Holt, Ronald Bruner, and Rudy Bird plus Special Guests.

Kenny Garrett’s latest release, Sounds from the Ancestorsis a multi-faceted album. The music, however, doesn’t lodge inside the tight confines of the jazz idiom, which is not surprising considering the alto saxophonist and composer acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye as significant touchstones. Similar to how Miles Davis’ seminal LP, On the Corner, subverted its main guiding lights – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone – then crafted its own unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy universe, Sounds from the Ancestors occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity, and emotional heft.

Sounds from the Ancestors examines the roots of West African music in the framework of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip-hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music,” explains Garrett. “It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music.

Indeed, Sounds from the Ancestors reflects the rich jazz, R&B, and gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. More important though, it also reverberates with a modern cosmopolitan vibrancy – notably the inclusion of music coming out of France, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guadeloupe.

The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up – sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,Garrett explains. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors.

The core ensemble for Sounds from the Ancestors consists of musicians that Garrett has recorded and toured within the recent past – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner, and percussionist Rudy Bird. The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony, and Sheherazade HolmanAnd on a couple of cuts, Garrett extends his instrumental palette by playing piano and singing. 

Kenny Garrett, Photo Credit: Hollis King

It’s Time to Come Home,” a sauntering yet evocative Afro-Cuban modern jazz original, kicks off the album. Garrett’s melodic passages, marked by capricious turns and pecking accents, signals a “call to action” for kids around the world to come home after playing outside all day. While Garrett originally composed the song in 2019, this incarnation reflects his experiences playing with iconic Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés.

Garrett then pays tribute to the late, great trumpeter and composer Roy Hargrove with the dynamic “Hargrove,” a bracing original that evokes the namesake’s mastery of reconciling hard-bop’s intricate harmonic and interactive verve with late-20th century hypnotic R&B grooves and hip-hop bounce. The song also slyly references John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which accentuates both the earthy and spiritual nature of Hargrove’s music and Garrett’s saxophone virtuosity. “What I respected about [Hargrove] is that he was borrowing from all the different genres, different experiences and bringing it to the table,” Garrett says. “And that’s what I did on this track.”

Traces of the Black American church also surge through “When the Days Were Different,” a warm mid-tempo original with a melody that faintly recalls Sounds of Blackness’ 1991 gospel classic, “Optimistic.” “The idea was to take it back to the church,” Garrett explains. “[The song] reminds me of being at a gathering with family and friends having a good time eating, drinking and spending quality time together.”

On the rhythmically intrepid “For Art’s Sake,” Garrett pays homage to two legendary drummers – Art Blakey and Tony Allen. Bruner concocts a stuttering rhythm that alludes to both modern jazz and Nigerian Afrobeat, while Bird adds polyrhythmic fire with his circular conga patterns. On top, Garrett issues one of his patented searing melodies that twists and swirls as the propulsion slowly gains momentum.

Drums and percussion are again highlighted vividly on the swift “What Was That?” and “Soldiers of the Fields/Soldats des Champs.” The former finds Garrett in quintessential form as he navigates through a thicket of torrential polyrhythms and a jolting harmonic bed with the steely determination and dexterity associated with Coltrane and Jackie McLean. The latter is a magnificent two-part masterpiece that integrates martial beats, Guadeloupean rhythms, and a haunting cyclical motif on which Garrett crafts pirouetting improvisations that dazzle with their initial lithe grace and increasing urgent wails. Garrett explains that “Soldiers of the Fields/Soldats des Champs” is a tribute to the legion of jazz musicians who fought to keep the music alive. “They’re the first ones to get hit and shot at in the line of fire on the fields of justice. ‘Soldats des Champs’ is also a tribute to the Haitian soldiers who fought against the French during the Haitian Revolution.” 

The leader’s love for Afro-Cuban jazz returns on the dramatic title track, which begins with Garrett playing a slow melancholy melody on the piano before the music gives way to a soul-stirring excursion, filled with passionate vocal cries from Trible and moving Yoruban lyrics from Pedrito, paying respect to Orunmila, the deity of wisdom. “[The song] is about remembering the spirit of the sounds of our ancestors – the sounds from their church services, the prayers they recited, the songs they sang in the fields, the African drums that they played and the Yoruban chants,Garrett says. The album closes as it opened with “It’s Time to Come Home;” this time Garrett uses his saxophone as a rhythmic instrument to have a conversation with the percussionist without the vocal accompaniment.

With his illustrious career that includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as a heralded career as a solo artist that began more than 30 years ago, Garrett is easily recognized as one of modern jazz’s brightest and most influential living masters. And with the marvelous Sounds from the Ancestors, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Garrett shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

Kenny Garrett · Sounds from the Ancestors Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: August 27, 2021
For more information on Kenny Garrett, please visit:


Violinist/vocalist Yilian Cañizares releases “Yemayá” for UN World Oceans Day on June 8

The tribute to the West African Goddess of the Sea was specially conceived for United Nations World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021

Yilian Cañizares, violinist. vocalist © Luis Luis-Malibrán

Cuban violinist/vocalist Yilian Cañizares has been invited to perform during the United Nations World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021. For this very special occasion she will perform “Yemayá,” her tribute to the West African Goddess of the Sea. She will also release a gorgeous video of the song on June 8.

Yemayá symbolizes Mother Earth and is represented by the colors blue and white: blue for placid waters of the sea and white for the tips of the waves that can bring the force of the ocean. Ylilian has projected the image of the Yoruba Goddess of the Sea as a healing force that will unite humanity.

A deep relationship with sound, music and the sea have been central in Yilian’s life since her early years in Cuba. The strong symbolism and the sacred dimension of water are part of the daily life of any Cuban. That is why she has naturally felt inspired to be the “voice of the ocean” asking herself this question: if the sea could send a message to humanity, what would it be? Through “Yemayá,” Yilian hopes to contribute in raising awareness about the challenges faced by the oceans, as well as the cultural heritages of all cultures on the planet which rely on healthy and prosperous oceans.

Yilian Cañizares composed this song combining Afro-Cuban futurist rhythms to draw awareness of the danger that the world’s oceans are facing and to celebrate the spiritual dimension of the work to preserve the world’s oceans. The song and the dance evoke the movement of the waves and the fundamental role that our positive interaction with the environment has for the survival of humanity. She calls on Yemayá to help humanity heal the pollution of the oceans and to respect Mother Earth.

More than just a musician, Cañizares is a global Cuban artist with a social conscience. She forms part of the diaspora of talented Cuban artists who have spread across the world sharing their music, social conscience and spiritual sensibilities through their work. Her Afro-Cuban futurist style blends her classical virtuosity and jazz sensibilities with her Havana life experience. She toured with Cuban jazz legends Chucho Valdes and Omar Sosa and played in many classical concert halls and conservatories as well. As a soloist, she embraces a women’s perspective of Afro-Cuban music, absorbing the strength and rhythms of the sea and the nurturing warmth of Mother Earth.

Join the @yemayachallenge: a dance challenge to Yilian’s song to heal the planet’s oceans.

Yilian is one of the most incredible talents of the new generation of Cuban musicians. She is a virtuoso, she is expressive, spontaneous and with a grace that makes her the favorite of all of us.” – Chucho Valdés

Yilian Cañizares, YEMAYA

Yilian Cañizares is one of the most intriguing contemporary violinists, singers and composers. Always staying true to her origins, she skillfully blends jazz, classical and Afro- Cuban rhythms with her otherworldly voice. Whether on stage or in a recording studio, there are few talented artists like Yilian – who was born in Havana and settled in Switzerland – with such great respect for the past and sensitivity towards the future, accompanied by a smile to die for.

Two acclaimed albums, the self-produced “Ochumare” released in 2013 and its 2015 follow-up “Invocación,” under the guidance of Alê Siqueira (Roberto Fonseca, Omara Portuondo), have strengthened her reputation as an innovative artist who is capable of transcending musical boundaries. French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur called her the “revelation of the year” due to her charisma, influences and the ease with which Yilian sings and plays the violin.

When she was just 14 years old, Yilian Cañizares was offered a scholarship to study in Caracas. In 2000, she moved to Switzerland to study at a conservatory. After a few years, major orchestras began to request her and, after moving to Lausanne, she collaborated with several ensembles for six years. During this period, the artist created a quartet of musicians from Germany, Venezuela and Switzerland (and later Cuba) and named it “Ochumare”. Six months later, in 2008, she won the Montreux Jazz Festival Competition with this group. Since then, her career has crescendoed. In recent years, she has shared a stage with Ibrahim Maalouf, Omar Sosa, Youn Sun Nah, Richard Bona, Chucho Valdés, Roberto Fonseca, Dhafer Youssef, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne and El Comité. “My sound reflects the richness and mixture of cultures that I carry with me today. It reflects what I am: a woman, Cuban, musician and citizen of the world”, explains the artist.“Invocación”, her second album, topped last year’s Qobuz world music ranking and has been reissued in a deluxe edition.

“Aguas”, the album produced in collaboration with Omar Sosa, was released on 5th October 2018. Together with their compatriot Inor Sotolongo on percussion, the duo created an intimate, personal record that reflects the perspectives of two generations of Cuban artists who live a long way from their homeland. The album is a mix of moving songs and energetic ballads, a symbol of the incomparable musical chemistry between the two artists. A unique fusion between Afro-Cuban music, classical music and jazz.

The new album, “Erzulie”, named after the Haitian goddess of love and freedom, was released on 15th November 2019 with her new format Yilian & The Maroons. Recorded in New Orleans, the album features the participation of several guests including Christian Scott (trumpet), Michael League (double bass), Bill Laurance (piano), Bobby Sparks (organ) and Justin Stanton (keyboards).

Yilian Cañizares in a few dates
1980 – Born in Cuba
1997 – Obtaining a scholarship in Venezuela
2000 – Obtaining a scholarship in Switzerland
2008 – MJF Prize
2013 – Release “Ochumare”
2015 – Release “Invocación”
2018 – Release “Aguas” with Omar Sosa
2019 – Collaboration with Chucho Valdés
2019 – Collaboration with Ibrahim Maalouf
2019 – Release “Erzulie”

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