Hilario Duran makes a triumphant musical homecoming on his new album, “Contumbao” (released on ALMA Records on September 23, 2017). Internationally recognized as a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader of the highest order, the Cuban-Canadian Duran has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth. With “Contumbao”, Mr. Duran has created another compelling entry in a rich and rewarding discography. His earlier albums have earned him three Juno Awards (Canadian music’s most prestigious award) and a Grammy nomination (for 2006’s From the Heart, by Hilario Duran’s Latin Big Band, featuring Paquito D’Rivera and Horacio Hernandez). His playing has also been featured on many other award-winning albums.
I spoke with Mr. Duran about how he was able to take the idea of going back to Cuba to create not only a record, but a family album or sorts. How he walked down the same streets in the now of his life and how that inspired the stories and memories of his Life. We talked about working with the master, Mr. Chucho Valdés on portions of this new record and how as a young man, Mr. Duran used to copy many of Mr. Valdés’ solos with an unmatched respect and a source of inspiration. We discussed the track entitled “Parque 527”, the address from which Mr. Duran spent many years growing up, and the significance of the time spent there on him as a player, but also as a man. We both agreed that the goal of this album was to try and reach out to a wider base of listener-ship, this album has many layers that leave the sophistication of jazz music at home sometimes and goes off into a more dance-able groove, so not only can this record captivate the mind, but also the dancing feet of its listeners. Towards the end of the chat, I found it very interesting to hear Mr. Duran’s response to my question about having a “special place” to go and either create, seek inspiration or just be with yourself.