Aruan Ortiz – “Improvisada”

JAZZIZ and Newvelle Records have partnered to bring you this exclusive Song of the Day offer. To purchase Aruán Ortiz’s album Cuban Nocturne, click here

When the filmmaker Ben Chace finished shooting the movie Sin Alas (“Without Wings”) in Cuba, he reached out to pianist Aruán Ortiz to score it. Chace had a particular piece in mind for the film — Ignacio Cervantes’ “Ilusiones Perdidas.” The short, playfully haunting piece is very well known in Cuba. But it has special resonance for Ortiz: It’s a piece of music he’s been circling since childhood.

Childhood is a deeply woven thread in Ortiz’s new album for Newvelle Records, Cuban Nocturne. The project grew out of the collaboration between Ortiz and Chace, but the songs became a reflection on the music that saturated Ortiz’s life as a young musician in Cuba. Cervantes is a touchstone for Ortiz, but surprisingly, it’s a repertoire he has never recorded before. Now, as Ortiz weds his singular genius for improvisation to the classical repertoire of his homeland, what emerges is an investigation of selfhood. It’s the sound of a man balancing and synthesizing the elements of his musical identity.

Aruán Ortiz, Newvelle Records Co-Founder Elan Mehler and engineer Marc Urselli | ©Jordan Kleinman

To make a record of Cervantes and other giants of Cuban classical music like Romeu and Lecuona is something that Ortiz called “A huge responsibility…I wanted to tackle these pieces from a different angle. They are written very clean — like Mozart. This music is written so completely that it doesn’t really lend itself to improvisation. I wanted to very carefully add embellishments without changing the character of the piece but using the same vocabulary.” As a composer and improviser, Ortiz’s recorded work, full of shifting meters and enigmatic titles, is relentlessly modern. Here, in contrast, he’s interpreting music that is nakedly romantic, crystalline and exposed.

Cuban Nocturne was originally part of the label’s second season of subscription-only vinyl releases. It will receive special re-release as a single on April 13 for Record Store Day. Below, we present a video of Ortiz performing Cervantes’ “Improvisada,” and we are proud to partner with Newvelle to offer this exclusive link to purchase the album before anyone else. As a reader of JAZZIZ, you’ll have a rare opportunity to get advance access to a classic jazz album in the making. This exclusive offer will only be available until Friday,  April 5, so act now.

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