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Musical Adventures Of CubanPianist and Composer Dayramir González in Barcelona

Updated: Mar 18


Dayramir González at MEAM


The are some musicians who are extremely skilled craftsmen. There are

others who have a deep soul for expression. Then there are those who

exhibit both. Cuban jazz pianist Dayramir González is one of those

musicians. The piano is but an extension of his thoughts, his feelings, another

body part that moves and dances with the rhythms of both his inner and outer

worlds.



This past September, González visited both Spain and Catalunya for a solo

mini-tour (2 nights in Madrid and 4 in Barcelona) thanks to the hard work and

love of González’s manager here in Spain, Siscu Cruces of Garbo

Management.


I had the pleasure to join González and Cruces on the Barcelona leg of

González’s tour. Each night’s performance was a new journey, a new energy,

a new exploration that, when combined together, told its own unique story of

an ongoing passage through the myriad shades of Cuban-inspired music and

González’s ever-unfolding interpretations. “Dayramir is nourished by

experiences, emotions and above all we must highlight his way of

interpreting, feeling and fusing with the piano,” Cruces states. “I have seen

and heard many pianists but no one has ever caused people to gasp and cry

due to the impact of emotion.”


“The need of finding my space in the world, the need to find my sound, to find

my story to tell was always a conscious exercise I wanted to achieve,”

González shares. “I found that voice through my compositions. One day, I

was sitting at the piano experimenting for new sounds, just messing around,

and I realized that I was hearing different bass notes to any given note that I

was playing on the melody. For example: If I played A in the melody, I was

hearing A major in the left hand or D major, or G major, Cmajor, Eb Maj #11,

Emin7Sus4, etc. At that time, I fully didn’t know all harmonic nomenclatures,

but I was indeed aware that when I was changing those bass notes and

harmonies against that melody, it had a sonic and emotional impact in my ear.

I used to call it colors ‘I’m hearing colors’. A pallet of colors that sounded

bright or pale, sad or happy, angry or unpleasant... I realized I wanted to

have control of those music colors to touch people’s honest emotions.”



Dayramir González at El Siglo


Indeed, the energy, emotional vibrancy and sheer purpose of González’s first

show at El Siglo – part of the Mercantic Antique Market in Sant Cugat – was

apparent from the moment González entered the room with his wide,

contagious smile already radiating joy. The old library-turned-cultural-space

was the perfect cozy setting for González’s style of musical and personal

interaction. Instead of using the stage, González placed an old-style upright

piano in the center of the floor, surrounded by tables and an audience awash

in candlelight and the warmth of local community. From the first note,

everyone in attendance knew they had come to the right place at the right

time. The delicacy of Dayramir’s first solo piece spread throughout the room

and it was as if everyone in attendance suddenly held their breath in awe and

astonishment, enraptured and unwilling to break the spell. There was no

starting off light. Dayramir let the audience know from the outset that this was

going to be a magic carpet ride and there was room for all.


The special surprise guests González surrounded himself with this evening

spoke directly to the inner joy and connections possible when like-minded

people gather to perform the ritual of live music and to ride the wave of

inspiration together. Cuban trumpeter Yuri Hernández soared alongside

González as the two men hit crescendo after crescendo. Even the candles on

the tables seemed to brighten in response to the music. Spanish saxophonist

Nando Pico also joined González this evening and the two men took the

music to new heights. “The experience of playing with Dayramir has been

very enriching,” describes Pico, “To be able to do Cuban folklore songs with a

musician of such level and use jazz as a common language is like touching

the sky. Furthermore, his human level is great, so I take this beautiful and

enriching experience to the deepest part of my soul.”



Yuri Hernández at El Siglo


Then it was time for some vocal additions. First up was Telva Rojas whose

energy swept us all up in her wake as she moved closer and closer to

González until it seemed they had become one, an intimate and loving

connection, full of power and presence. The evening finished off with Cuban

singer, composer and actress Teresa Yanet. Once again, the soulful rhythms

of Cuba filled the air with both beauty and elegance. It was a magical,

ethereal and transcendent evening and we all floated out of El Siglo, our feet

inches off the ground.


González’s second Barcelona gig was at the European Museum of Modern

Art (MEAM) as part of their Saturday Classics series. Surrounded by oil

paintings and MEAM’s stunning 18th-century palace architecture, González’s

solo piano echoed throughout the great halls, both caressing and

reverberating with love, passion and awe.



Dayramir González at MEAM



To say González becomes one with his instrument is an understatement. It is

a love affair, a mutual admiration, a deep respect, and a collaboration. For

anyone present, it is both a gift and a hypnotic odyssey. Like his audience,

González must take a long moment after each piece to return to the room, to

the realm of time and place. He is tapping into something deep, something

spiritual and ritualistic. And in so doing, González, his piano, his passion and

his vulnerability open a door that all of us are invited to go through. It is

welcoming, timeless, joyous, sad and comforting. It speaks to beauty, even in

its darkest moments. And like all successful journeys, González brings us

back and places us gently down on the shores where we can once again feel

our feet on the earth and understand, just a little bit better, how special this

short life of ours is.


The third and fourth gigs took place at Barcelona’s famous and classic joint,

the Milano Jazz Club. González’s two-night stand at Milano welcomed an

array of musical guests who added their unique voices and flavours to

González’s wildly impassioned and improvisational nature. Night one gave us

Barcelona’s own Carolina Alabau on vocals and Carlos Caro, founder of the

Cuban music group Sabor Cubano here in Barcelona, on violin. Both took the

energy and the music to new, uncharted spaces. “Playing with Dayramir was

a cathartic experience in which we merged and were able to be free on

stage,” Alabau shares. “It doesn’t happen many times that you connect with

that “something more” that music gives you, and with him it was very easy to

enter that state. He is always connected to that beyond to which music takes

him. I feel lucky because by just playing the songs once before the concert,

we were able to understand each other and communicate as if we had played

together for years. That happens when musicians listen and are open to

moving beyond their preconceived ideas of how a song should go. And

Dayramir is all humility, generosity and openness in that sense. A real luxury

to sing with him.”


Night two at Milano – the final night of González’s mini-tour – was a who’s

who of Barcelona’s diverse music scene. Vocalist and Berklee College of

Music grad Marina Tuset joined González on stage and Tuset’s distinctive

voice steered the music into even more experimental and otherworldly

spaces. Then Canadian-born blues, pop, Americana and rock singer-

songwriter (and longtime Barcelona-resident) Cece Giannotti joined González

on stage. The combination of Cece’s guitar work and soulful voice introduced

a completely new flavour and direction to the music and proved just how

versatile and intrepid both of these artists are.


Finally, González was joined by the duo of Brazilian-born and now Barcelona-

based Mirla Riomer on vocals and percussion, alongside Taller de Músics

grad Marcel Vallès on guitar. The South American influence of Riomer and

Vallès turned the evening at Milano into a primal dance celebration that

continued long-after the last audience member had departed.


This evening – like González’s tour itself – was an essential reminder of the

human capacity to embrace empathy, to share our experiences – our deepest

joys and our most burdensome challenges – via unshackled and boundless

artistic expression. It is an ancient ritual that speaks directly to the soul of

mankind, to our DNA, and to our desire for connection – both to one another

and to something greater. If that’s not worth the price of admission, I don’t

know what is!



Dayramir González, Carolina Alabau, Carlos Caro, Marina Tuset, & Cece Giannotti at Milano Jazz Club



Dayramir González and friends afterhours at Milano Jazz Club



Born and raised in Cuba alongside his father – renowned Afro-Cuban jazz

trumpeter Fabian Gonzalez – and currently a resident of New York, González

sees his life as a combination of styles and influences. “I’m Black, I’m Cuban,

I’m West African. I’m Yoruba. I studied European classical music. I’m

bilingual. I’m a composer, an arranger, an orchestrator. I am a music educator

and curriculum owner. I’m a socio-cultural ambassador of Cuba, a Yamaha

artist, a father. A human being in love with love and the beauty of life. Also,

I’m a man who has dedicated himself to his art, and who is passionate about

connecting his music with his audience.”


Dayramir was born in Havana, Cuba on October 18, 1983. He began his first

classical piano lessons at the age of 8 under teachers Amado Touza and

Miriam Valdés. This was followed by studies at the National School of Art

(ENA) under famed Cuban pianist and composer, Huberal Herrera.

González was hired for his first professional gig at the age of 16 by his then

mentor, vocalist/percussionist Oscar Valdés, in Valdés’ new band, Diakara. In

2005, Dayramir won first place in Havana’s JoJazz festival, which led to a

record deal with Cuba’s famed national label, Colibri. His first album, “Habana

enTRANCE” was released in 2007. The album won three Cubadisco Awards

(the Cuban equivalent of the Grammys).


González became, with the help and support of Cuban piano legend Chucho

Valdés, the first Cuban national to attend the prestigious Berklee College of

Music on a Presidential Scholarship where he graduated Summa Cum Laude

after receiving the Wayne Shorter Award for Most Outstanding Composer of

the Year. “Until this time I was composing, arranging, playing jazz mainly

based on my intuition and experience gained through doing it day after day,

trial and error,” explains Gonzalez. “Now, I was gaining the actual knowledge

and techniques to help me put in words what I was hearing and playing. I was

perfecting my command of my sound.” The experience of attending Berklee

allowed Gonzalez “to more freely express my creativity and share my story.”

Since then, Gonzalez has played some of the world’s great musical stages

including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, as well as the

Havana International Jazz Festival.


Today, in addition to performing, composing and teaching, Dayramir is also

the co-founder of The Art School of Contemporary Performance and

Creativity, located in the Bronx, New York. “I always saw my father teach

since I was a child so the transition to becoming an educator came very

naturally to me,” explains González. One of the life lessons Dayramir learned

from both his father and growing up in Havana was the art of giving back. “It’s

incredible that a black man like me from the neighbourhood had the

opportunity to study at the most elite conservatory where I was able to study

Mozart... I was lucky enough to study in Havana and then go to Berklee and

then I did my master’s degree... I find it very rewarding if we can launch even

a handful of kids on the road to finding their own musical destiny.”


Dayramir González’s newest album, V.I.D.A. will be released via streaming

platforms on April 12, 2024. In addition to its Spanish-language definition of

“life,” V.I.D.A. is also, explains González, a personal acronym for Verdad,

Independencia, Diversidad y Amor. The album will include appearances by

conga maestro Pedrito Martinez, vocalist Daymé Arocena, and Havana-

based rapper, Edrey “Ogguere” Riveri.


Catalunya and Spain look forward with great love and anticipation to

González’s new work and his return to the rhythms, movements and musical

community of our Mediterranean shores in 2024.





Dayramir González and friends at Milano Jazz Club


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