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Elio Villafranca: Schoenberg's Cuban Street

By Published: October 6, 2003
"The goal was to create a cultural and musical fusion, a sound and a Pan American language featuring jazz, European and regional influences. Such a goal explains why I selected musicians with backgrounds as varied as their strengths. If I had used only Cuban musicians in this recording, it would have been purely Cuban and inherently limited. I preferred to integrate jazz figures with little experience in Latin music, mixing them with Puerto Rican, Canadian and Cuban musicians. This strategy demanded that the group congealed through the process of fusing each individual's talents and foundations rather than through coming together to vibe in one obvious Latin groove. The musicians were excellent. With their talent, they put soul and feeling to my music. They wished everything would come out as Larry (Cramer) and I wanted it. They broadened the concept I had for my compositions, as if they would've written them. It truly was a pleasure to work with Pat Martino, a jazz legend. He came to record one of his compositions, although I had changed the melody and harmony, which I embarrassingly explained to him before we recorded. I was rather impressed to see him perform the piece with such skill, including every change, without blinking. He's an incredible musician. The musicians made the two recording days, with only four hours of rehearsal, something unbelievable."

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