Elio Villafranca - 2018 Downbeat 2018 Critics Poll Winner "Rising Star - Keyboard" And 4.5-star Review For "Cinque"!


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It's really a remarkable album. Easily one of the best of 2018. I look forward to working with Elio... —Michael Ambrosino, Host of the Fringe
Cinque features Wynton Marsalis, Lewis Nash, Vincent Herring, Steve Turre, Greg Tardy & Freddie Hendrix.

Elio Villafranca has just been announced as DownBeat Critics Poll Winner- “Rising Star- Keyboard" and also received a 4.5-star review for Cinque! He was recently interviewed on Univision 41 and is featured on Loren Chuno's Doing Jazz Podcast.

Cinque is a five movement suite inspired by the story of Joseph Cinque, who in 1839 led a successful revolt aboard the slave ship La Amistad, days after being sold and transported to a sugar plantation in Cuba. Elio Villafranca's most ambitious project today, showcases the cultural diversity of the five Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, and Jamaica; while simultaneously highlighting the Congolese musical heritage woven into the fabric of each of these diverse nations, and yet unified via the forced migration of Africans to the Americas.

Cinque (ArtistShare) is a body of work that encompasses narration, original composition and selections of Elio's own field recordings of different forms of rooted Congolese rhythms in the Caribbean, especially the traditions of Tambor Yuka, only practiced today in the region of Pinar Del Río, where Elio was born, and Gangá, a rare culture that came from Sierra Leon, Cinque' place of birth, to the region of Matanzas, Cuba. Both traditions are near to extinction today.

Elio's intention is to share music the same way he experienced it growing up in Cuba, by giving access to the context and sources that inspired his original compositions. This way of sharing, creates a better bridge with the listener to a more meaningful understanding and connection with music and culture.


Elio Villafranca: piano
Vincent Herring: alto & soprano sax, flute
Greg Tardy: tenor sax, clarinet
Todd Marcus: bass clarinet
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet
Steve Turre: trombone, bass trombone, conch shells
Ricky Rodriguez: acoustic bass
Lewis Nash: drum set
Arturo Stable: bata drums, congas, palo drums or atabales
Miguel Valdes: bata drums, congas, bombo
Jonathan Troncoso: palo drums or atabales, valsié, barril drum
Nelson Mateo Gonzales: barril, palo drums or atabales
Alexander Lasalle: vocals
Alexander Waterman: cello


Terrance McKnight


Wynton Marsalis: trumpet
Leyla McCalla: vocals
Don Vappie: banjo

Praise for Elio Villafranca

“Elio's music is passionate. A brand new application of ancient ways." —Chick Corea

“Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca is an inspired and visionary musician. I am profoundly moved by Elio's vision and musicianship. He is a treasured member of the family here at Jazz at Lincoln Center." —Wynton Marsalis

“Elio Villafranca writes and plays with passion and a deep understanding of musical nuance, with chops equal to some of the greatest pianists Cuba has ever produced." —DownBeat Magazine

Praise for Cinque

“It's really a remarkable album. Easily one of the best of 2018. I look forward to working with Elio...” —Michael Ambrosino, Host of the Fringe (Portland, OR)

“We would love to have Elio in to the station! Cinque seems incredibly special." —Mia Simon, Jazz Department Head WKCR (NYC)

“I think the recording is wonderfully creative and just all around a fantastic project for Elio." —Ron J. Pelletier, Jazz From Gallery 41 (Berkeley, CA)

“A great project!” —Bill Ewell, WSLR jazz host (Sarasota)

“I played some of Cinque on 'What' New?' when it first arrived. I am fond of Elio and his outstanding creativity! I will be playing more of it in the coming weeks!" —Janine Santana, KUVO jazz host (Denver)

“Elio is a great artist and his album Cinque, is marvelous. Hopefully it will get a Grammy Award." —Victor Javier Solano, anchor/host Univision 41(NYC)

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