Jazz Caliente: Pianist Harold López-Nussa

Apr 14, 2017

There's a new wave of young Cuban jazz pianists who are pushing boundaries while still honoring the traditions of Cuban music and the modern masters like Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.  

Meet Harold López-Nussa, your guide for "El Viaje," the journey.

Starting as a classical pianist, López-Nussa quickly became a rising star, performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras all over the island.  

"I studied classical music and that's all I did until I was 18," he says.  Then he found jazz.

Jazz, improvisational music and Cuban son became a passion.  In 2005, he won the first prize and the Audience Choice awards at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition. 

His 2016 album "El Viaje"  is named for his experiences traveling throughout the world, yet always finding his way back to his hometown of Havana. He visits various genres and ideas while staying true to his foundational roots.  There's a focus on his innovative compositions and arrangements.

The CD features his trio with younger brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and percussion; and from Senegal, Alune Wade on bass and vocals.  Guest artists include his father Ruy Francisco López-Nussa on drums.

Listen for Harold López-Nusssa's interpretation of a Chucho Valdes composition "Bacalao con Pan" from "El Viaje" on this week's Jazz Caliente.  

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.