David Virelles

David Virelles

Sun   Apr   02   2023 - 2:45 PM Old City PAC

New York based pianist/ composer David Virelles grew up in a musical family in Santiago de Cuba, steeped in the music of the Afro – Caribbean diaspora and Western classical music. Having been invited to Canada by Jane Bunnett in 2001, Virelles relocated to Toronto where he graduated from Humber College, where he eventually taught. During this time Virelles worked extensively all over Canada with his own groups and as a sideman. Moving to the United States in 2009, David organically brings together Cuban folkloric and New York improvisational worlds, an interest that started when he was 14. While he views his work as “a hundred percent traditional,” drawing from multiple traditions, in practice, he is creating a syncretic new personal music, rather than a mixture of elements or a recreation.

Besides his solo work, he has also worked with Bunnett, Henry Threadgill, Ravi Coltrane, Andrew Cyrille, Reggie Workman, Oliver Lake, Bill Frisell, Tomasz Stanko, Román Díaz, Milford Graves, Chris Potter, Tom Harrell, Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Coleman, Mark Turner, Paul Motian, Marcus Gilmore, Terri Lyne Carrington, José Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Chucho Valdés, Stanley Cowell, Hermeto Pascoal and Juan Pablo Torres, among others. 

David’s 2012 album Continuum ended up on many “Best Of The Year” lists, being selected #1 by The New York Times. He released three projects on the legendary label ECM to critical acclaim, documenting a wide artistic range – Mbóko, Antenna, and Gnosis. His release Igbó Alákọrin (The Singer’s Grove) Vol I & II is a celebration of the musical history of Santiago de Cuba. This record features Santiago music legends and it was recorded at the Siboney E.G.R.E.M. studios in this southeastern Cuban town. It was named Best Latin Jazz album by NPR in 2017. In 2020, Virelles released Transformación del Arcoiris with Pi Recordings, an electronic EP exclusively on the BandCamp platform. Virelles latest album is NUNA (El Tivoli Music/ Pi Recordings), an exploration of the solo piano setting. It was named one of the best albums of the year 2022 by different publications including The New York Times and NPR. It also won the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Award.

Virelles is a Shifting Foundation Fellow, a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts, Louis Applebaum Award, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Cristobal Díaz Ayala Travel Grant, Grand Prix de Jazz de Montreal General Motors and The Jazz Gallery Commission. He has been named #1 Rising Star in the Piano category by DownBeat Magazine, and Artist of the Year by Musica Jazz Magazine (Italy). While a student at Humber College in Toronto he won the Oscar Peterson Prize, presented by Peterson himself. He is a recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and the CINTAS Fellowship in Music Composition. David is currently a professor at the Zürich University of the Arts. He has been a guest lecturer at residences at the Basel Jazz Campus and the Focus Year special program, CalArts, UCLA, Siena Jazz Summer Workshop, JazzDanmarks Summer Sessions, Amsterdam Conservatory, Fayetteville State University and Harvard University. 

Knoxville, TN · USA

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