Aruán Ortiz
Artist
A former classically trained violist and pianist, Aruán Ortiz was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1973, and began his studies at the age of 8 in his hometown. Continuing at the “Instituto Superior de Arte” in Havana, Cuba, he was marked by the influence of Bach, Mozart, Paganini and Lista among others. After receiving various awards as a violist (Amadeo Roldán award for Best Mozart interpretation, 1991, Best interpretation of Cuban Music, 1991) and playing as a soloist with the Santiago Symphony Orchestra in 1992 he gave up the viola at the age of 20 in favor of the piano, an instrument he had always preferred and with which he most identified in his search for new sounds. In 1995 he won Best Cuban composition at the Symposium of Cuban Music and he participated in La Isla de la Música (1996). This project assembled music from all over Cuba, was acclaimed by the international press, and was recognized as one of the first album to bring cuban music to the European and American mainstream. In the same year Aruán continued developing his sound and recorded his first album as a soloist, Impresión Tropical (Universal), a compilation of traditional Cuban music and original compositions played piano solo. During this period he was also awarded a series of scholarships to study classical piano with celebrated Cuban pianist and educator Cecilio Tieles at the Professional Conservatory in Vilaseca, Spain, and later jazz piano with Joanne Brackeen and Danilo Pérez at the Berklee College of Music. Influenced by jazz greats such as Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Thelonius Monk, and mentored by Horacio Fumero, Aruán’s jazz career took off as a sideman in Barcelona and Paris, playing with the greatest as Tata Güines, Felipe Cabrera, Flavio Boltro, Stephane Belmondo, among others. While in Europe he was the recipient of various awards including; Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000). He also participated in the recording of the definitive Miles Davis tribute record on Columbia Records with Vince Wilburn, Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, Missy Elliot, and others.

Albums

Aruán Ortiz Trio Vol.1

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“This album is the beginning of a search for a truth which in its essence can give us freedom, energy, and above all a consciousness that in order to transmit the magic of music we must love, believe, and grow with what we do.”

Aruán Ortiz

The recent formation of the Aruán Ortiz Trio brings together three talented and worldly musicians in a project conceived many years ago by its leader. The jazz trio is a reunion of pianist Aruán Ortiz and Francisco Mela, natives of southeastern Cuba, and fellow former Berklee student Peter Slavov of Bulgaria, creating a union as faithful to their world jazz roots as to their bebop influences. Thelonius Monk, Andrew Hill, Herbie Hancock, Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes are among the most prevalent influences and are present in the fresh and attractive sound of their debut album, Aruán Ortiz Trio, Vol. 1.

Arriving in Boston, Massachusetts in 2002, Aruán reunited with Francisco Mela. And the magic began experimenting; using their jazz training, they searched for a new sound that would fuse the conga from Santiago de Cuba—a strong festive rhythm played by more than 80 percussionists at the
same time—with the lyricism of the Cuban forms serenata and the trova, a musical movement lead by the Trio Matamoros at the beginning of the 20th century. At the same time they had the fortune to meet Peter Slavov, and the three jammed for the first time at the Wonder Bar in Boston, in 2002.

Peter, who was born in Bulgaria, contributes an exceptionally strong jazz timing to the trio, allowing a rhythmic, melodic and harmonic freedom between the piano and drums.

The threesome began to play regularly at the legendary Wally’s Jazz Café in Boston in October 2003 with other important local musicians such as Darren Barrett, Walter Smith III, and Warren Wolf, experimenting with Aruán ́s original compositions in hard-bop sessions and Latin Jazz Night, and inspiring ovations such as never heard at the club. The trio would then record their first album, Aruán Ortiz Trio, Vol. 1, at WGBH Studio 1

released by the Spanish label, Ayva Música® in February 2004.

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