OLD WATERS NEW RIVER: A CD by Spiros Exaras and Elio Villafranca
Spiros Exaras and Elio Villafranca, New Yorkers of Diaspora Greece and Diaspora Cuba respectively, make music that sizzles and with this work they have brought something new into the jazz archipelago: they have fused their art and co-constructed something original and inspired by their roots beyond geography and language; an unconscious effort to shake music from its national categories.
According to guitar legend Al Di Meola, “the sophistication and eloquence one can hear makes it clear to me that Spiros Exaras’s way of executing guitar is compelling and beautiful.” A graduate of the Athens Conservatory of Music with degrees in classical guitar and composition, Exaras is an internationally acclaimed musician, regarded as a master of fusing musical cultures. He has played with such artists as Shirley Bassey, Mark Murphy, Randy Brecker, Jon Benitez, Matt Garrison, Ray Vega, Tessa Souter, J.D. Walter, and Joel Rosenblatt as well as Grammy Award-winners, Dave Valentin, Hernan Romero, and Arturo O’Farrill. Exaras also played the searing guitar solo on Mariah Carey’s platinum hit, “My All”. His previous CDs are “Spiros Exaras plays Kostas Hatzis” (MBI, 1992) and “Phrygianics” (Blue Note, 1993).
Born in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, Steinway Artist pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Since his arrival in the United States in mid-1995, he has been at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable pianists, composers, and band leaders. Last year, Mr. Villafranca was among the five pianists hand-picked by Chick Corea to perform at the first Chick Corea Jazz Festival, curated by Corea himself at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He also received a 2010 Grammy Award Nomination in the Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year category.In 2008, The Jazz Corner nominated Elio as pianist of the year. That year, he was also honored by BMI with the BMI Jazz Guaranty Award and received the first NFA/Heineken Green Ribbon Master Artist Music Grant for the creation of his “Concerto for Mariachi, for Afro-Cuban Percussion and Symphony Orchestra.” Finally, his first album, Incantations/Encantaciones, featuring Pat Martino, Terell Stafford, and Dafnis Prieto was ranked amongst the fifty-best jazz albums of the year by JazzTimes magazine in 2003.
“Old Water New River” is available from Harbinger Records (HarbingerRecords.com) and through downloads on iTunes. They are distributed by Naxos USA.