Performance Friday, November 16, 2012 | 9 PM

Dayramir and Habana enTRANCE
Aldo López-Gavilán Quartet

Afro-Cuban Jazz: The Younger Generation

Zankel Hall
Two rising Cuban stars bring their bands to Zankel Hall for an evening of music making that gives the audience a glimpse into the future of jazz in Cuba.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.

Dos estrellas cubanas en ascenso presentan a sus bandas en el Zankel Hall para brindar al público una visión del futuro del jazz en Cuba.

Este concierto es parte de Late Nights en Zankel Hall.

Duas estrelas cubanas em ascensão trazem suas bandas ao Zankel Hall para uma noite de música que dará à plateia uma ideia sobre o futuro do jazz em Cuba.

Este concerto faz parte de Late Nights em Zankel Hall.


  • Dayramir and Habana enTRANCE
    ·· Dayramir Gonzalez, Piano
    ·· Yosvany Terry, Alto Saxophone, Vocals, and Percussion
    ·· Luis Faife, Tenor Saxophone and Flute
    ·· Yunior Terry, Bass
    ·· Richie Flores, Percussion
    ·· Obed Calvaire, Drums
  • Aldo López-Gavilán Quartet
    ·· Aldo López-Gavilán, Piano
    ·· Roberto Martínez, Saxophone
    ·· Raúl Gil, Bass
    ·· Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, Drums
  • with Special guest
    Ilmar López-Gavilán, Violin


  • Dayramir González

    Cuba has produced some of the most dynamic musical innovators in jazz history. Promising newcomer Dayramir González can be added to the pantheon of distinctive Cuban jazz voices. This Afro-Cuban pianist, composer, and arranger-together with his six-piece band, Habana enTRANCE-is setting the Latin jazz world on fire in America. His inspiration has been legendary Cuban pianists Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, as well as the rhythmic sounds that are the hallmarks of his country's musical output.

    While his artistry entrances audiences, more amazing is how the Havana-born talent has hurdled obstacles that would have daunted a less-determined artist to arrive on these shores. Strong tradition and struggle inform the music he makes with Habana enTRANCE, which audiences across Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada have acclaimed as a new wave of Latin jazz expression. Word is spreading about his sizzling approach on piano, combining powerful contrapuntal rhythms and ear-pleasing harmonic lines that reinvigorate and re-imagine such classic Cuban forms as contradanza, danzón, and son, while incorporating jazz and rap.

    González was born in Havana to a musical family, picking out nursery rhymes on the family piano at the age of two. Throughout his childhood, he was composing, arranging, and performing. By 16, he was tapped by singer Oscar Valdés of the groundbreaking Cuban band Irakere to play piano with his new group Diákara. In 2004, González formed Habana enTRANCE, honing his craft and perfecting his own singular style. With enTRANCE, he performed at the Jazz Zaragoza festival in Spain, which also featured Chucho and his father Bebo Valdés, jazz-bass legend Ron Carter, Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, and Harry Connick Jr. In 2006, González competed in Chucho Valdés's JoJazz competition at the Havana International Jazz Festival and won the grand prize to record his debut album Dayramir & Habana enTRANCE.

    González has performed with such international artists as Ramón Valle, Omara Portuondo, Teresa Caturla, Ignacio Berroa, Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, George Garzone, Christian McBride, Anat Cohen, and Dave Liebman.

    Currently completing a dual major in jazz composition and piano performance at Berklee College of Music on a Presidential Scholarship, he is the first Cuban national to receive this prestigious award and is already making his mark in America. "I believe strongly in what I have musically," he says. "Every time I play my music, people always appreciate what I play because they identify with it. In some way, they find a little bit of themselves in my music. I can contribute something to change the world, and I feel happy to have the opportunity to bring my piece of Cuban jazz to Carnegie Hall."

    More Info

  • Aldo López-Gavilán

    Aldo López-Gavilán was born in Cuba to a family of internationally acclaimed classical musicians. His father is a conductor and composer, his mother is a concert pianist, and his brother is a violin virtuoso. At the age of two, the young Aldo had written his first musical composition. By four, his mother introduced the budding child prodigy to the piano.

    López-Gavilán began his formal piano studies at the age of seven. His first international triumph was at the age of 11 when he won a Danny Kaye International Children's Award, organized by UNICEF. He made his professional debut at the age of 12 with the Matanzas Symphony Orchestra. He later went on to perform Prokofiev's Third Concerto with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba.

    Parallel to his classical abilities, López-Gavilán developed remarkable improvisational skills. He was invited to perform in the world-famous Havana Jazz Festival with legend Chucho Valdés, who called López-Gavilán "simply a genius, a star."

    In 1999, he recorded his first CD, En el ocaso de la hormiga y el elefante, which won the 2000 Grand Prix at Cubadisco; it also received awards in the jazz and first-works categories. In 2005, he was invited to join a group of prestigious Cuban pianists to create an album and documentary in honor of Frank Emilio, Amor y piano. He was also included in the Cuban Pianists: The History of Latin Jazz DVD set.

    His second album, Talking to the Universe, was a success with audiences and critics alike. In 2006, he gave a concert of his newest works that was later turned into his third album, Soundbites. He was also invited by Claudio Abbado to perform as soloist in a special concert dedicated to the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, in which he was accompanied by the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. The following year, Maestro Abbado invited him to perform Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1 in Caracas and Havana.

    In 2008, López-Gavilán was included in a documentary on the history of Latin jazz in Cuba titled ¡Manteca, Mondongo y Bacalao con Pan!, directed by Pavel Giroud. It was that same year that he recorded his fourth CD, Dimensional, which afforded him the flexibility for more musical experimentation. He has also composed music for such documentaries as El Proceso: la historia no contada.

    In 2009, his fifth album-Aldo López-Gavilán en vivo-was released. He finished his first live DVD, Más allá del ocaso, which included orchestral selections and jazz compositions. He also composed original music for Cuban director Lester Hamlet's film Casa vieja. This year, he became a member of renowned singer-songwriter Carlos Varela's band for a South American tour and also recorded his sixth album, De todos los colores y también verde.

    More Info

Lead funding for Voices from Latin America is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Sponsored, in part, by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mercantil Servicios Financieros.

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York.



Fernando González on Dayramir González and Aldo López-Gavilán

It's an impossible calculation, but the ratio between the size and population of Cuba versus the musical talent it has produced—and continues to produce—has to be astounding.

Dayramir González, 29, and Aldo López-Gavilán, who will be 33 in December, are two leading figures in yet another generation of exceptional Cuban pianists. But technical brilliance is only part of the story. Both born in musical families, both educated in the European classical canon, González and López-Gavilán have shown the curiosity and talent for working in different idioms, incorporating in their writing and playing elements of the popular Cuban music tradition and jazz along with broader, global sources.

"I started studying piano when I was seven. It was all classical," recalls González, the son of a professional trumpet player. "But I was lucky to be part of a generation of pianists who today are top level players, like Alfredo Rodriguez and Axel [Tosca] Laugart. We are all about the same age and we all studied in the same classroom. We would be playing classical music and to break from the routines and impress the girls, we would have … I wouldn't call it a competition, but let's say that we all wanted to be the best at playing popular music—the most popular tumbaos (the rhythmic patterns in dance music)."

And López-Gavilán, whose his father is an orchestra conductor and his late mother was an important pianist and educator, can point to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as a pivotal piece that he remembers from his childhood, but also talk about family gatherings where they sang Cuban songs and his own interest in "tribal or indigenous musics, be it African, Indian, Arabic, Celtic … and of course those with Latin roots such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia ..."

Both González and López-Gavilán gravitated towards jazz as a vehicle for self-expression, but neither wants to be boxed into one particular style.

González—whose father introduced him to jazz with a cassette of Wynton Marsalis that featured the late Kenny Kirkland—cites Chick Corea, el señor Keith Jarrett, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Chucho Valdés as influences that have helped draw him closer to the jazz tradition. ("I'm so lucky to now to be living jazz," he says of his experience at the Berklee College of Music in Boston). But he also speaks of his love for Latin pop. "Jazz is a path, but if people think that's the only thing you can do, that will close doors."

Meanwhile, López-Gavilán uses the tools of jazz to develop a style "that is closer to world music," he says. Still, he points out that the rich Cuban music tradition is embedded "in every Cuban." At this concert, he plans to play his own music, which features influences of Latin jazz, fusion, and world music, but he notes that "it'd be very easy to find passages that breathe the air of Vieja Trova Santiaguera, or composers such as Sindo Garay, María Teresa Vera, or the son of Miguel Matamoros, and Félix Chapotín. The roots of any Cuban musician, regardless of his style, is our traditional Cuban music."

—Fernando González is an independent music writer and critic whose work appears regularly in The Miami Herald, JazzTimes, and The International Review of Music.
Program Notes



A Taste of Dayramir and Habana enTRANCE.


Dayramir and Habana enTRANCE perform "Sitaciones in 12/8."


Aldo López-Gavilán Performs "Epílogo."


Chucho Valdés on his development of Afro-Cuban music.


Latin American Music and Artists at Carnegie Hall: From the Carnegie Hall Archives.

This performance is part of The Shape of Jazz, and Voices from Cuba.

Part of