Harold López-Nussa Quartet

featuring Ruy López-Nussa, Luques Curtis and Mayquel Gonzalez

When: Friday, June 7
Times: 7 and 9 p.m.
Where: Paul Mahder Gallery, 222 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg

Tickets: $45, open seating
10% discount for members starting at Jazz Supporter level
Event sponsor Healdsburg Sotheby’s

Last fall Healdsburg Jazz presented Cuba’s latest piano sensation Harold López-Nussa and his trio at the Paul Mahder Gallery, and there was enough magic to warrant a return engagement as part of the 21st Festival. This time there’s a bonus: the great Cuban trumpeter Mayquel Gonzalez.

By now jazz fans have almost come to take for granted the impossibly talented musicians Cuba exports, almost as if the country has a special factory dedicated to doing exactly this. Since the 1930s Cuban musicians have irrevocably energized U.S. jazz, and the process barely slowed even when the artists had to defect. Harold López-Nussa is comfortably in the ranks of Cuban piano greats like Bebo Valdes, Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and David Virelles. Like these artists, Harold was schooled in both the classical conservatory and the streets, where Cuba’s central rhythmic force, the clave, reigns.

Mayquel Gonzalez, a frequent partner of Harold’s, is a deeply melodic player whose every note seems to be an expression of the soul and all the emotions it can embrace. In big demand by top Cuban musicians, Mayquel played in a recent revival of legendary band Irakere, led by its founder Chucho Valdes, and had the honor of playing in the group the wondrous percussionist Dafnis Prieto brought to Cuba for his grand return 20 year after leaving the island.

Harold’s quartet – consisting of his brother Ruy López-Nussa on drums, Gaston Joya on bass, and Mayquel – is a unit that thinks, feels, and breathes like a single entity, with Harold’s fingers pushing and pulling the tempo in ways that go beyond the usual improvising outfit. While American jazz is undoubtedly the standard for the world when in comes to Western improvisational music, Cuba has many things to teach us. A case in point is this quartet. Prepare to be thrilled.