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Multi-Grammy Nominee & Guggenheim Fellow Elio Villafranca 'Standing By The Crossroads' Featuring Cécile McLorin Salvant! ArtistShare Project


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Elio Villafranca
Two time Grammy nominated Cuban jazz pianist and composer, and 2021 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship Elio Villafranca, has created a new work for ArtistShare entitled Standing by the Crossroads. This piece, different than his previous work CINQUE, speaks about his own life experiences as an artist, growing up in the small town of San Luis, Pinar del Rio, surrounded by Congolese drums, educated in Russian classical music, while falling in love with jazz. In this project, Elio also speaks about his experiences as an immigrant, living in the US, and the many Crossroads situations he faced in both countries.


In Cuba, religions are very intertwined with the cultural fabric. Santeria, Arará, Abakuá, Congo, Tumba Francesa, Gangá, albeit different, have two things in common: the veneration of their gods and the way in which they see the Crossroads as a place of great significance. In Elio's case, it was the spiritual concept of the Crossroads that touched him the most. Standing by the Crossroads is a project that speaks about Elio's own life experiences as an artist living in Cuba, and the many artistic, social, and political Crossroads situations he encountered, either choosing from polarized musical styles or artistic forms of expression, to painful moments in life when he was forced to choose between staying or leaving his country of birth. Different from Elio's previous projects, in which he focused on honoring the legacy of historical figures such as CINQUE, these Crossroads experiences served as the source of inspiration for the creation of this new work.

Band Members

Elio Villafranca: piano / compositions / ekón / guataca / coros / hand claps
Cecile McLorin Salvant: vocals
Mar Vilaseca : vocals
Vincent Herring: alto saxophone / flute/clarinet
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet / flugelhorn
Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone / bass clarinet
Jonathan Kreisberg: electric guitar
Domo Branch: drums
Edward Perez: acoustic bass
Jonathan Troncoso: bata drums / coros / hand claps
Mauricio Herrera: bata drums / congas / bonko enchemiya / coros / moyuba / hand claps
Jason Olaine: coros / hand claps

Special Guest

Roberto Castellón: Spanish guitar on “Keep the Eyes on the Bull"

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