Ever since the jazz was created in the clubs and dancehalls of New Orleans, there was always a significant influence from the Caribbean region, specifically from Cuba. The island, which was just a ferry ride from the port city, had such a significant effect on the development of the music that Jelly Roll Morton always spoke of the importance of Afro-Cuban based rhythms (the Spanish Tinge) in creating and performing this nascent music. However, it was the arrival of a prodigious trumpet player named Mario Bauza from Havana who not only embedded himself into the swing band culture which dominated ...read more
Pianist Elio Villafranca and percussionist Arturo Stable have the world at their fingertips. They originally hail from Cuba, where they received classical training and soaked in the sounds of the people before coming Stateside. But they don't limit their vision to their mutual point of origin. Spain, the Middle East and Africa, along with the sounds of their homeland, come into view on Dos Y Mas as these two meld their minds and marry their musical intentions to create a program of organic, original music. Both men have traveled parallel paths, spending their formative years at Cuba's ...read more
Cuban born pianist Elio Villafranca has spent a lifetime observing the space between different worlds. He spent his childhood in the small Piñar de Rio region on the Western coast of Cuba and then jumped into the centralized bustle of Havana. He went through a broad and varied musical education that not only focused on the piano, but also included intensive investigations of the guitar, percussion, and composition. He immersed himself in the complex musical constructions of Havana's academic classical music world, and then struggled to explore jazz and Cuban popular music on his own. He moved from the island ...read more
Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca has found the way to celebrate both his Latin jazz roots and straight-ahead jazz influences on The Source In Between. Along with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Jeff Carney and also featuring saxophonist Yosvany Terry, hand percussionist Arturo Stable and drummer Ferenc Nemeth on selected tracks, Villafranca wends his way through a selection of original compositions that bespeak of both the Latin and jazz genres. Ordinarily a CD with only original compositions can be problematic because there is no base from which to interpret, but Villafranca is an accomplished pianist ...read more
Yet another Cuban loss is Philadelphia's gain. Enter Elio Villafranca. Incantations Encantaciones, produced alongside Larry Cramer, is his sortie into winning leadership. Sorting out the pianist's musicality, brute force, effervescence, topicality, virtuostic independence (just pay attention in You Spoke Too Soon" on this regard), patience, candor, and brazen delicacy is not that difficult. This is one of those records that recommend themselves with scant need for analysis or justification.
First off, the session is greatly enhanced by guitarist Pat Martino on Assumption," You Spoke Too Soon" and El Hombre" ï" a Martino composition that gets Afrocubajazzified with a ...read more
As we talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails, enough of a view on Elio Villafranca surfaced. The sight, tinted by listening to his Incantations/Encantaciones over several weeks now, is also awash in universal social commonalities among musicians, their craft, industry and conduct. His is also the stereotypical tale of an 'migr' from a dim repressor and his egomaniacal regime, although he is not overly concerned with politics and much more interested in what you are: music. Alas, it's never just about the music'
Without a doubt, business issues in the music industries of both Cuba ...read more