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Posts tagged ‘Afro-Cuban’

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. Read more

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A Cuban Grandmother Reunites with Family, Preparing a Dinner to Savor

By Kim Haas

As Yesenia Fernandez opened the door to her apartment, I was greeted instantly and affectionately by her mother, Mercedes Crespo. Mercedes was welcoming, warm and friendly. I liked her immediately. She has that inviting, infectious personality that puts you at ease.  Mercedes radiates a certain warmth and hospitality that often characterizes Cubans.

Although she calls this apartment in West New York home, she’s only been living here for a couple of weeks. Originally from Havana, Cuba, she was reunited with her daughter Yesenia, and Yesenia’s triplets (los trillizos) at the end of April, a day shy of her 57 birthday. Read more

Painting with Artist Renier Usatorres Valdes

The day I met Jorge Peña in Habana Vieja, he promised to introduce me to one of the city’s up and coming young painters, Renier Usatorres Valdes. So, when Jorge and I met again in Habana Vieja a few days later, he escorted me on a 15 minute walk to one of the surrounding neighborhoods to meet Renier. Read more

Q&A: An Interview with Cuban Musician Alejandro Mayor

Kim Haas sat down with Cuban musician Alejandro Mayor to talk about Cuban music, the African connection and his new CD “La Fusión” Read more