Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jazz Caliente: Just Another Day for Cuban Pianist Harold López-Nussa

Pianist Harold Lopez Nussa on the street in Havana
Eduardo Rawdriguez
Mack Avenue Media
Pianist Harold Lopez Nussa on the street in Havana

Un Dia Cualquiera (Just Another Day) is the name of Harold López-Nussa's latest trio album.  He says,  "The idea was to put the music and the trio together in a studio and just play, the way we three do every day, any day - like a concert in the living room of your house." 

They'd be welcome in my house any day, every day.  But even better, Harold's trio will be performing for one night only at Jazz Alleyin Seattle on Monday, September 24.

Un Dia Cualquiera focuses on Harold's original compositions, mostly new, some reworked, and a few nods of respect to classic Cuban composers and pianists, including the grandfather of Cuban jazz piano, Bebo Valdés.

"He's one of my all-time favorite pianists.  I love Bebo," Harold enthused during our phone chat earlier this month.  "I didn't know about him when I was growing up, because he had left Cuba, but when I first heard  him, I was completely in love with his playing.  We decided to dedicate two pieces to Bebo, in his style of playing."

López-Nussa admits that he comes from "...good genes.  My mother was a piano teacher, my father is a drummer, my uncle is a very popular jazz piano player in Cuba, also my grandmother, who is French, used to play piano, not professionally, but very well, Chopin and all that stuff."

Cuban schools emphasize classical music training from grade school through university, so that's where he started.  Harold always liked the jazz he heard from his father's record collection, rehearsals at home and concerts, but he was a bit scared of trying to play jazz himself.  Finally, he took the first steps toward improvisation when he was 18.

Now he's part of the wave of young Cuban musicians who respect the traditions, yet move the music forward.  

Despite the increasing complications with travel between Cuba and the U.S., López-Nussa says he feels very lucky to have a lot of work here.  "I love to play in the States, I love to show our music to the American audience.  I love to play at Jazz Alley, it's a beautiful club. Last January was my first time, and I'm very glad to come back," he says.

Listen for "Mi Son Cerra'o" and "Y La Negra Bailaba" from Un Dia Cualquiera this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, and if you can, please join me at Jazz Alley for Harold López-Nussa's trio performance this coming Monday night, September 24.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m.  The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.