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Harold López-Nussa Trio: El País de las Maravillas

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On his second U.S. recording, 26-year-old Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa leads his trio-bassist Felipe Cabrera and drummer (and younger brother) Ruy Adrian López-Nussa-through a set composed mostly of the leader’s fresh originals, merging jazz with his European classical training and the rhythms of his homeland. Born into a musical family and educated at the prestigious ISA in Havana, López-Nussa recently gained prominence through the American/Cuban project Ninety Miles featuring Stefon Harris, Christian Scott and David Sánchez. Saxophonist Sánchez appears here on four tunes.

The opening “Guajira,” composed by Ruy Adrian López-Nussa, is a vehicle for a piano-drum dialogue weaving through a lively melody and intermittent claps and whistles that evoke flamenco. “Caminos” has drums and bass laying down a tight groove, López-Nussa and Sánchez playfully and dexterously drifting in and out of unison. The two shine together and apart, on the driving “La Fiesta Va,” the clave-centered “Bailando Suiza” and the vibrant “Volver.”

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