Symphonic Jazz Kicks off the Year

By Irina Echarry, Photos: Caridad

Ernan Lopez-Nussa
Ernan Lopez-Nussa

HAVANA TIMES, Jan. 13 – January arrived in style– at least in terms of jazz.  This past Sunday at the Amadeo Roldan Theater-Auditorium, Havanans enjoyed a jam session backed by strings, woodwinds and percussive instruments.

Renowned Cuban jazz pianist Ernan Lopez-Nussa, along with Gaston Joya (bass) and Enrique Pla (drums), joined forces with the National Symphonic Orchestra to give us the first symphonic jazz concert to ever take place on the island.

Compositions authored by Ernan flooded the hall packed with people avid to hear something new.   With the styles of contradanza, cha-cha-cha, danzon, and a few compositions created for the cinema, everything had the format of a philharmonic orchestra but with space for improvisation, as jazz requires.

The pianist —with the straightforwardness that characterizes him and without pronouncing a single word— reaffirmed the virtuosity of his sound.

Cuba's National Symphony Orchestra

The piano melted with violins, while the bass could be heard in various solos that demonstrated the fine quality of its instrumentalist.  On percussion was Yaroldis Abreu, who, along with Pla, gave vigor to their interpretations.  Oboes, flutes, clarinets and a harp imbued the playing with a certain sonority different from traditional jazz.

Experienced maestro Enrique Perez-Mesa was in charge of directing the orchestra.  The warm sensations of “La Isla,” “Momo,” “Lobo’s Cha,” “Return to Cuba” and others made the audience forget the plummeting temperatures that awaited them outside the theater.

The concert will be recorded on DVD for those that could not enjoy its premiere in person.