Elio Villafranca’s Piano Lesson
Our January article for Being Latino focuses on Elio Villafranca, a Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban Jazz pianist.
To say that Elio Villafranca is a jazz pianist doesn’t quite capture the enormity of what the piano represents to him. For Elio, playing the piano is the embodiment of his soul. It lies at the core of who he is.
In his words, “It’s a liberation, piano is like my other half. It’s true, it’s not a cliché. When I get to play the piano, I feel one half already full, but if I do my things (daily routine) and I haven’t played the piano, I feel completely half empty, unbalanced.”
Elio is quite centered, disciplined and gracious. With years of classical piano training in his homeland, Cuba, and a daily practice routine of at least four hours, Elio Villafranca has earned the distinction of being at the vanguard of the current generation of Cuban pianists and musicians developing an international modern jazz sound.
His most recent album, Dos y Mas, is a piano and percussion collaboration with fellow Cuban musician Arturo Stable. Released last year to great critical acclaim, Dos y Mas honors the musical heritages of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Spain and Cuba.
Elio served as pianist, composer and co-producer for the 2010 Grammy Nominated Best Latin Jazz Album Things I Wanted To Do by Chembo Corniel. He has been lauded for his technical skills. Steve Bryn, a reviewer for the Philadelphia Tribune once wrote, “…Villafranca emotes an expressive, emotional quality enhanced by his technically brilliant approach to the keyboard and his rhythmically complex original compositions…”
His unexpected Grammy nomination brought a new approach and philosophy to his music, ”From that nomination, from that point, I tend to think everything I do is special, whether it’s something that I did, whether it took me two minutes or whether it took me a year. Sometimes when something comes quick, you tend to value it less than something you worked on for a long time. At this point, I think I’m going to value everything as it should be. If it comes out of you, it’s special.”
Read the full article on Being Latino.