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Seeking Cuban solo piano resources


Josh Paxton
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I'm looking to up my game playing Cuban styles as a solo pianist. That last part is what makes it tricky; I can find plenty of stuff on playing those styles in groups, but for solo playing there seems to be fairly little out there. Stuff like this...

 

[video:youtube]

 

I know Chucho put out a couple solo piano albums, but apart from the above cut he tends to get a lot more dense than what I'm looking for. Any pointers much appreciated.

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Introducing Ruben Gonzales (Buena Vista Social Club)

Bebo Valdes & Diego El Cigala

Fabian Almazan has a great version of "Bola de nieve" on his first record

I believe there's some solo piano stuff on Alfredo Rodrigues' records - his arrangement of "Guantanamera" is fantastic and actually made me want to hear that tune again!

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Wow, Thanks David for mentioning Alfredo Rodriguez. Guantanamera is on his album "The Invasion Parade", which I'm listening to right now. Awesome stuff. Not exactly traditional Cuban, and more ensemble with solo piano sections than solo piano. I'm loving the harmonic language.
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Practice playing tresillo ( see Wiki, the most important Latin American rhythm ) in your left hand bass . Play it staccato with the fourth beat played legato for extra authenticity . In the right-hand play melodies you know and also solo your right hand in legato to contrast your left hand tresillo staccato. Of course it is fine to do stacatto in the right hand and it is the natural tendency, therefore practice Legato in the right hand instead to help hear and develop the necessary effortless consistency of your left hand tresillo. Root , chord , 5th tresillo stride is excellent for Latin and of course the easier single note bass tresillo. The most important thing is many hours, days, weeks, months and years of practicing tresillo pattern (not tumbao) in your left hand. Books will not do this for you.I got most of this advice from Monty Alexander who is from Jamaica. He is a virtuoso of Latin solo piano. Dont use the salsa band bass players part tumbao pattern for left hand playing in solo piano other than an occasional montuno vamp maybe...it is rarely used when soloing and rendering melodies except in a band setting.. per Chucho bValdez.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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You cannot say "Cuban" and "piano" without a mention of Ariacne Trujillo. If you're looking for the more traditional-sounding, older stuff, this might not ring your chimes but she is just amazing, imho of course. I found a solo piece from her, but her work with the Pedrito Martinez group is just killing too. I know group playing is not the subject of this thread but indulge me, it's just so great to listen to! Some of the hippest montunos you'll ever hear.

 

Solo:

 

[video:youtube]

 

With Pedrito Martinez:

 

[video:youtube]

 

 

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Jorge Dalto - Though not from Cuba, he was a master of latin piano styles. He was

George Benson's keyboardist. Listen to this on YT and tracks 2 & 3, Like A Whisper & Hotel del Globo.

[video:youtube]

 

Check him out here with George Benson. He is amazing:

 

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A152E46obM0

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

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One aspect of cuban music piano comes from classical latin composers of late 19th-early 20th century.

Great modern cuban pianists have usually a great knowledge of these composers (Ernesto Lecuona, even Gotchalk who was american...) and they always find a way to incorporate their style in the 20th century context.

 

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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[video:youtube]

 

Been a fan of Monty Alexander since I could drive.

Watched him and Oscar P. playing all over Miami while I was living there.

I snuck into clubs easily but had to work on NCL Flagships for gigging since I was the same age as babysitters.

National Maritime Union got under aged kids gigs where alcohol was served because of international treaties/Laws.

 

Monty is Salsa King.

 

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Both my teachers are from Peru and Cuba. To see the shit they do is amazing. What's interesting is the one from Cuba can play salsa and Racmoninioff with no feeling of contradiction. She was trained by the Russian teachers and very harshly. My main teacher Rich can do that and knows all the styles, montunos, and other Latin music. He then will play some Beethoven and switch around to Michael Camillo. Some of these guys are monster players in this thread. It's really wild to see it up close.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Here is a list they gave me Monday:

 

Bebo Valdes

Chucho Valdes

Gonzalo Rubaleaba? (Spelling)

Emilio Morales

Pucho Lopez

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Is there any single Youtube tutorial or so that you would recommend for a beginner? Something that introduces only one or two useful beginner chops or so? I was watching a Youtube tutorial for playing Havanna by Camila Cabello, and was wondering if there is more like it. Thanks in advance!
2019 W.Hoffmann T122 upright, Roland FP-50, Roland RD64, Korg Microkorg
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