Harold López-Nussa Concert Notes

Harold López-Nussa was born in 1983 in Havana, where he still lives and holds dual citizenship in Cuba and France. “I need the kind of relaxed life that Havana gives me,” he has said. “Every time I return to Cuba, I feel something special—not just a connection with my family and friends, but with the place itself. This is where my music comes from, what it talks about.”   

Walk the streets of Havana on any day and you’ll hear the soul of Cuba: music pouring from private homes and bustling restaurants, windows rattling with the parties thrown inside, nightclubs pulsing with throngs of people dancing. On his vibrant and spirited third recording for Mack Avenue Records,Te Lo Dije, Havana-based pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa sets out to capture that stirring sensation with an exhilarating marriage of jazz and Cuban pop music, defiantly standing up to the doubters who failed to share his radical vision. 

Much like its near equivalent in English, “I told you so,” the Spanish phrase "te lo dije" can be deployed as a boast or a put-down — often both at once. López-Nussa throws down that gauntlet on Te Lo Dije. The album features the pianist’s core quartet of himself on piano; his brother, drummer Ruy Adrián López-Nussa; bassist Julio César González; and trumpeter Mayquel González; bolstered by a number of special guests including Afro-Cuban funk superstar Cimafunk, French accordionist Vincent Peirani, famed Cuban reggaeton vocalist Randy Malcom, and vocalist Kelvis Ochoa. 

The combustible blend of Afro-Cuban and modern jazz that has marked all of the pianist’s acclaimed releases is enlivened by the sounds that thrill modern Cuban audiences: the Songo of the iconic band Los Van Van, the Mozambique of Pello el Afrokán, the reggaeton that has swept Latin America and the world since the late ’90s. The results pulse with the heartbeat of Havana. 

Harold López-Nussa is rapidly building a global following in jazz and beyond. His tight-knit quartet captivates audiences with a relentless vivaciousness that “bridges generations and genres” (Billboard). His music reflects the full range and richness of Cuban music, with its distinctive combination of classical, folkloric, and popular elements, as well as its embrace of improvisation. López-Nussa has performed at the esteemed Kennedy Center and SFJAZZ Center, as well as some of the best jazz festivals in the world: Newport, North Sea, Monterey, Montréal, Detroit, and Playboy. 

Harold is accompanied by Grégoire Maret, Luques Curtis, and Ruy López-Nussa. Grégoire Maret is a GRAMMY-winning harmonica player who has previously played alongside Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Prince, and other legends. Luques Curtis (bass) has shared the stage with legends like Gary Burton and Eddie Palmieri. The two musicians will join Ruy López-Nussa, Harold's brother and longtime drummer, to fill out the band. Harold and Ruy have performed with both Gregoire and Luques on previous occasions, but this is the first tour with all four on the stage together.