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, 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 his brother, drummer Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, bassist Julio César González and trumpeter Mayquel González, bolstered by a number of special guests including 2019 Millpond.live headliner and Afro-Cuban funk superstar Cimafunk.
López-Nussa grew up in a musical family in Centro Habana, a neighborhood known for its folkloric Afro-Cuban ceremonies. “There would be two or three ceremonies each week, and I could hear them from my house,” he recalled. “What I soaked in there has never left me.”
He studied classical piano at the Manuel Saumell Elementary School of Music, the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and the Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA). His career gracefully spans styles, from his recording of Heitor Villa-Lobos ́ Fourth Piano Concerto with Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra to his featured role on the album Ninety Miles, playing alongside jazz stars David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris.