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Elio Villafranca - DownBeat Rising Star Winner & "Cinque" 4.5-star Review!

Elio Villafranca has just been announced as DownBeat Winner - Rising Star - Keyboard and also received a 4.5-star review for Cinque!
He was recently interviewed on Univision 41
and is featured on the "Doing Jazz Podcast"!

66th ANNUAL DOWNBEAT CRITICS POLL WINNERS
Rising Star Categories
Rising Star-Keyboard: Elio Villafranca

4.5-Star Review - DownBeat, click here.

Cinque is a five movement suite inspired by the story of Joseph Cinque, who in 1839 led a successful revolt aboard the slave ship La Amistad, days after being sold and transported to a sugar plantation in Cuba. Elio Villafranca's most ambitious project today, showcases the cultural diversity of the five Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, and Jamaica; while simultaneously highlighting the Congolese musical heritage woven into the fabric of each of these diverse nations, and yet unified via the forced migration of Africans to the Americas.

Cinque (artistShare) is a body of work that encompasses narration, original composition and selections of Elio's own field recordings of different forms of rooted Congolese rhythms in the Caribbean, especially the traditions of Tambor Yuka, only practiced today in the region of Pinar Del Río, where Elio was born, and Gangá, a rare culture that came from Sierra Leon, Cinque' place of birth, to the region of Matanzas, Cuba. Both traditions are near to extinction today.

Elio's intention is to share music the same way he experienced it growing up in Cuba, by giving access to the context and sources that inspired his original compositions. This way of sharing, creates a better bridge with the listener to a more meaningful understanding and connection with music and culture.

PERSONNEL
Elio Villafranca - piano
Vincent Herring - alto & soprano sax, flute
Greg Tardy - tenor sax, clarinet
Todd Marcus - bass clarinet
Freddie Hendrix - trumpet
Steve Turre - trombone, bass trombone, conch shells
Ricky Rodriguez - acoustic bass
Lewis Nash - drum set
Arturo Stable - bata drums, congas, palo drums or atabales
Miguel Valdes - bata drums, congas, bombo
Jonathan Troncoso - palo drums or atabales, valsié, barril drum
Nelson Mateo Gonzales - barril, palo drums or atabales
Alexander Lasalle - vocals
Alexander Waterman - cello

NARRATION
Terrance McKnight

GUESTS
Wynton Marsalis - trumpet
Leyla McCalla - vocals
Don Vappie - banjo

"Elio's music is passionate. A brand new application of ancient ways."
- Chick Corea

"Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca is an inspired and visionary musician. I am profoundly moved by Elio's vision and musicianship. He is a treasured member of the family here at Jazz at Lincoln Center."
- Wynton Marsalis

"Elio Villafranca writes and plays with passion and a deep understanding of musical nuance, with chops equal to some of the greatest pianists Cuba has ever produced." - DownBeat Magazine
 
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2007