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Rafael Zaldivar Trio Live

Review of performance by Cuban pianist at L’Astral in Montreal

Rafael Zaldivar Trio
Rafaell Zaldivar
Rafael Zaldivar's Life Directions album cover

The unique aesthetic of pianist Raphael Zaldivar synthesizes jazz with his classical training at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte and the musical heritage of his native Cuba. Noted for his virtuosity and fluid phraseology, Zaldivar’s compositions are characterized by structural and rhythmic complexity, balanced by a strong sense of harmony and emotional depth. On October 12th Zaldivar introduced his trio to a warm, supportive audience at L’Astral, a venue located in the Montreal Jazz Festival’s new headquarters, as part of its Jazz All Year Round series. Accompanying Zaldivar, who’s been dubbed “THE new Montreal jazz piano sensation,” were Morgan Moore on bass and special guest Francisco Mela on drums. The concert was recorded by the CBC for broadcast at a later date.

The 27-year-old Zaldivar, born in Camagüey, central Cuba, relocated to Montreal in 2005; he has since made an impact on the local jazz scene, winning the Jazz en Rafale New Talent Contest in 2009, and the Radio Canada award for Jazz Revelation of the Year for 2010, appearing at the Montreal Jazz Fest two years running. Zaldivar cites Bud Powell, Art Tatum, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea among the American jazz pianists who have influenced him, alongside Cuban pianists Chucho Valdés, Emiliano Salvador and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Danilo Perez, with whom Zaldivar studied briefly in Havana, serves as one of his main role models – a Latin American musician “who has done his jazz homework.”

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