Elio Villafranca & The Jazz Syncopators - June 10th Streaming 7pm EDT - Standing by the Crossroads!
Born in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable Cuban musicians. The Grammy nominated jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader will showcase his new work Standing by the Crossroads, with his six piece jazz ensemble – The Jass Syncopators. The ensemble adeptly pushes boundaries, infusing jazz with the syncopated rhythms of traditional Afro-Caribbean musical forms. Villafranca's compelling and complex compositions teem with subtle textures and feature architecture derived from his classical training. This concert is presented by Blues to Green as part of a week-long residency.
Elio Villafranca, who's most recent outstanding achievement is becoming a 2021 recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, will showcase his new work Standing by the Crossroads, with his six-piece jazz ensemble— The Jass Syncopators. The ensemble adeptly pushes the boundaries of jazz by fusing it with the syncopated nature of a variety of traditional Afro-Caribbean musical forms. Performances and recordings of Elio Villafranca's compelling and complex compositions, teeming with subtle textures and featuring architecture derived from his classical training, have enraptured audiences and critics around the world. The performance takes place at 7pm EDT at the Community Music School of Springfield (Massachusetts).
The performance at 7pm EDT on June 10th, live-streamed from Springfield, MA will feature Elio Villafranca on piano, joined by an exceptional group of musicians: Freddie Hendrix on trumpet, Vincent Herring on saxophone, Ricky Rodriguez on bass, Charles Goold on drums, and Jonathan Troncoso on percussion.
Inspiration for Standing by the Crossroads
In Cuba, religions are very intertwined with the cultural fabric. Santeria, Arará, Abakuá, Congo, Tumba Francesa, Gangá, albeit different, have two things in common— the veneration of their Orishas and the way in which they see the Crossroads as a place of great significance. In Elio's case, the spiritual concept of the Crossroads touched him the most. Standing by the Crossroads is a project that speaks about his own life experiences as an artist living in Cuba, and the many Crossroads situations he has encountered— from the polarization of musical styles or choices of artistic expression to moments of life where he was faced with choosing between contradictory paths. These Crossroads moments posed plentiful double meanings and contradictory outcomes such as revolution or autonomy, living in the present or planning for the future, oppression or freedom, and homeland or no land. Different from Elio's previous projects, in which he focused on honoring the legacy of historical figures such as CINQUE, these Crossroads experiences serve as the source of inspiration for this new work.
Since his arrival in the U.S. in mid 1995, Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable pianists, composers and bandleaders. Elio has been selected for two years consecutively by Downbeat Critic's Poll as a Rising Stars. In 2019 Downbeat Critic's Poll, named him a Rising Stars pianist and included him in an article, among three other pianists, called "A New Golden Age of Pianists." Elio was also the winner of the 2018 Downbeat Critic's Poll, Rising Stars in the Keyboard Category. Furthermore, Elio Villafranca has received Two GRAMMY Nominations, his first in 2009 as a producer and his second in 2018 with his double album CINQUE (Artistshare). In 2017 Elio Villafranca became the first Cuban born recipient of the Sunshine Award, founded in 1989 to recognize excellence in the performing arts, education, science and sports of the various Caribbean countries, South America, Centro America, and Africa, and in 2014 Jazz at Lincoln Center awarded him with their first Millennium Swing Award! as well as receiving that year a Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Nomination by the German Records Critics Award for his album Caribbean Tinge (Motema).
Over the years Elio Villafranca has recorded and performed nationally and internationally as a leader. His music has featured jazz master artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Pat Martino, Paquito D'Rivera, Jon Faddis, Christian McBride, among others. He has also performed with Chick Corea, Sonny Fortune, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Johnny Pacheco to name a few. Elio Villafranca is based in New York City and he is a faculty member at Temple University in Philadelphia, The Juilliard School of Music, New York University, and Manhattan School of Music in NYC.
"Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca is an inspired and visionary musician. With his band, The Jass Syncopators, Elio expands what Jelly Roll Morton called The Spanish Tinge to what Elio calls The Caribbean Tinge. The band swings hard and brings a traditional yet innovative style to the roots of jazz and Afro Caribbean music. 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's music is passionate. A brand new application of ancient ways."
- Chick Corea
[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
"The musical history of Cuba is full of extraordinary pianists. Elio Villafranca is amongst the best representatives of the new generation of Cuban pianists and composers..."
- Paquito D'Rivera
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