Elio Villafranca/Arturo Stable : Dos y Mas

While pianist Elio Villafranca and percussionist Arturo Stable are both classically trained and steeped in the music of their Cuban roots, they also explore Middle Eastern and African forms on this duo session featuring 10 co-written originals.

Villafranca’s spirited “Saghezi,” inspired by an Iranian rhythm played on the daf (a frame drum), is marked by shifting time signatures and employs several hand drums. Opening with a kalimba intro, Stable’s 6/8 “En La Colonia” is inspired by the Yoruban chants he listened to as a child, and his “Vertiente” blends Spanish flamenco with Afro-Cuban jazz. Closing the album is the nostalgic “Cuba Linda,” based on the Coros de Clavé tradition originating in Barcelona and later evolving into Coros de Guaguancó in Havana. Featuring Cuban compatriot Igor Arias on lead vocals, the tune expresses a heartfelt yearning for their homeland.

Stable’s polyrhythmics are expressed through a variety of percussion instruments, from djembe, bata and congas to the African udu, Middle Eastern/North African dumbek and the Afro-Peruvian cajón; Villafranca plays both piano and guataca. And while their simpatico rapport can be attributed partly to the fact that each was originally trained on the other’s instrument, their kinship goes far beyond technical facility or theory. It’s more spiritual.