David Virelles2021

Pianist David Virelles grew up in a musical family in Santiago de Cuba, steeped in the music of the Afro - Caribbean diaspora and Western classical music. Moving to the United States in 2009, he organically brings together Cuban folkloric and New York improvisational worlds, an interest that started when he was 14. While he views his work as “a hundred percent traditional,” drawing from multiple traditions, in practice, he is creating a syncretic new personal music, rather than a mixture of elements or a recreation.

His intensive research work in Cuba has led to a deeper understanding of how music functions within specific cultural contexts. Interested in creating music that goes beyond entertainment, he continues to investigate the power of the metaphysical aspects of music through culture.

His music can be scored and/or improvisational, anchored by structures and strategies. David’s respect for his elders and his contemporaries is palpable in the way he works: taking into account the musical personalities that he’s playing with, welcoming their contribution and exploring the sound palette a particular group offers because he considers this to be “part of the composition too.”

Besides having performed extensively with his own projects and as a solo artist, he has also worked with Henry Threadgill, Ravi Coltrane, Andrew Cyrille, Bill Frisell, Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Milford Graves, Chris Potter, Tom Harrell, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Turner, Paul Motian, among others. Chucho Valdés, the legendary 79 year-old Cuban pianist, has referred to Virelles as a “genius.”

""My goal is to keep developing a kind of music that has ancient and contemporary qualities at once: a new type of original, modern, experimental, improvisational music.""

photo: Shawn Peters