Global Cuba Fest 10th Anniversary Concert
In a combo that promises to be both sublime and rip-roaring, three generations of Cuban and Cuban diaspora musicians come together this Saturday at The Miami-Dade County Auditorium to celebrate FUNDarte’s 10th anniversary of its Global Cuba Fest.
The elder statesman of the group is Cuban pianist and composer Ernán López Nussa. This is a musician compared by the venerable Jazz Times to nobody less than Grammy-award winning Irakere founder Chucho Valdes. “Like Chucho before him, Nussa is an insatiable musical omnivore with an intellect to match his giddy enthusiasm.”
Besides his work in jazz clubs all over Europe, Nussa is probably most widely known as the pianist in AfroCuba, the all-star band that collaborated with famed Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez during one of the vocalist’s more popular decades in the 1980s.
But as Nussa is a classically trained guy, perhaps it is not surprising that he happens to also enjoy reworking the dense structures of Bach and Beethoven to create gorgeous miniatures like “Fugue Negro” and “Sonata Patetica Cubana.”
Next generation up on Saturday night’s bill: Carlos Puig-Hatem, another classically trained composer and jazz musician, one who not only graduated from Havana’s world-class Instituto Superior de Artes conservatory of the arts (ISA), but was both innovative and disciplined enough to become the subsequent chairman of its department of composition.Since arriving in Miami 11 years ago, the trumpet and flugelhorn player has recorded and collaborated with some of the top jazz and pop industry headliners, including Celia Cruz and Willy Chirino. These days besides his performances and arranging, Puig-Hatem is finishing up a doctorate at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in choral composition. Puig-Hatem is nothing if not versatile. Since founding the Babel Latin Jazz Quintet in 1985, he has composed for chamber groups and orchestras, worked on film scores, and continued to perform as part of his latest project, the Carlos Puig Group, which combines jazz, pop and Afro-Cuban elements. On Saturday expect a sound closer to a Pat Matheny groove.
Third generation up: a band called Picadillo, now based in Madrid, Spain, a band that still flies under the radar in Miami, although crowds in Havana and Madrid wait in long lines to sing and shout along with the group during a performance.
The singer who fronts the band is Cuban-American Sol Ruiz, who studied opera for a bit before taking off to become a street musician in New Orleans — “oh that Zydeco,” she says. Soon after she was playing gigs around Europe and opening for the likes of Patti Smith. One Madrid afternoon she wandered into a plaza and heard some musicians riffing on the Cuban music she grew up on. She jammed with them for most of a day and a night. Picadillo was born.
“Picadillo” she explains, “isn’t so much the name of a band as a description of how we make our music. Cuban son and guaracha is the meat of the meal, but we add in whatever else we find in the refrigerator.” A whole lot of those refrigerator’s contents are rooted in Ruiz’s time in New Orleans. Small wonder that the flavors mix so well together since Cuban musicians and those from the American south, most especially the deep blues players of New Orleans and the Delta, have been mixing it up going back at least a century. At Saturday’s Picadillo performance there’ll be a blues harmonica and ukulele, and stylings that are reminiscent of Billie Holiday, Dr. John, and even Janis Joplin. All this atop your guaguanco.
It’s a three-tiered concert night nicely reflecting a decade of a Global Cuban fusion fest.
Cuban Fiesta celebrating the 10thAnniversary of Global Cuba Fest in Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.); Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; tickets $30 general admission, $25 students and seniors, $20 groups of 10 or more (limited availability).On sale through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com; or 800-745-3000, and at Miami-Dade County Auditorium Box Office, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For more information: www.fundarte.us, 305-547-5414 and (786) 348 -0789