Cuban keyboard whiz Harold Lopez-Nussa will get you up and at ’em


Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa. Courtesy

The Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee. 7:30 PM Thursday, October 20 Admission $25. To order: visit this link

Quick Currents: It’s time to wake up –- as I just did – to an extraordinary keyboard talent coming to Milwaukee. The Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio feels like a jolt of high-grade java from somewhere in ripe Southern climes. Is there Cuban coffee this powerful?

You don’t really need that if you get a taste of Harold Lopez-Nussa. This promotional video shows his trio percolating to the very rim of your cup. It’s got some fun and silly surrealism going on. At one point, you see the pianist’s bodily detached right-hand.

Baby boomers might respond to the ensuing keyboard flourish by saying “Thank You, Thing!” in remembrance of the mischievously deft right hand -– sans body – that worked as a servant for The Addams Family, in the original, wonderfully mordant TV show with Lurch, Uncle Fester and the gang.

But this is serious musicianship and overflowing creativity as much as it is vibrant, quirky fun.

As Down Beat‘s Howard Mandel writes in his review of Lopez-Nussa’s latest album El Viaje, the pianist’s “single-note grace is akin to Herbie Hancock’s, and his two-fisted attacks are as joyous as Chick Corea’s. What distinguishes him, though, is his warm buoyancy…”
And that’s superbly sustained and stoked by the pianist’s younger brother Ruy Adrian on drums and bass virtuoso Alune Wade.

The brothers’ father is also an master drummer, and the family has been called a Cuban version of the Marsalis family of jazz. I’m not sure if that’s a shot of hype. But from what I’ve heard, it’s in the ballpark, and this music is a scorching line drive off the left field wall.  There’s some very special bloodlines at work here, on their very own terms.

And what I like is that, for all his clear virtuosity, the keyboardist (expect some electronics) is never really about showboating. The music takes you where it wants to, pretty damn far, and I don’t think you’ll regret where you end up.

The trio will play at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21 and 22, as part of a long American tour.


Thanks to attorney-pianist Steve Tilton, whose law firm Tilton & Tilton is co-sponsoring this event with the Conservatory.





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