Aruan Ortiz
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Aruan Ortiz

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"Jazz en la noche"

El Aruán Ortiz Trío brilla con su savoir faire, el piano es sensible y cautivador, el contrabajo sólido y virtuoso, la batería potente y delicada a la vez, y el saxo invitado da la nota festiva y lujosa al concierto. - Revista Mu

"Aruan Ortiz 4tet Live at Small's"

Cuban pianist Aruan Ortíz brought his quartet of Abraham Burton (saxophone), Peter Slavov (bass) and Eric McPherson (drums) into Small’s for six sets of intriguing (mostly) original music that revealed an impressive approach to improvising and composing. Ortiz began the third set Mar. 10th with his composition “El Mago”, introducing the piece with a flowing folkish motif and hammering rhythmic repetitions that recalled Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s extensions of Keith Jarrett. Burton joined in, picking up the melodic line, initially blowing a brooding romantic tenor over the leader’s subtle montuno, then increasing the dynamic intensity to a fever pitch, screaming at the top of the tenor’s voice and plunging into its deepest depths, Ortíz’ piano ringing powerfully in the background driven by McPherson and Slavov’s pulsing rhythms.

On “Invisible”, Burton coolly blew the familiar Ornette melody while Ortíz mined the composition’s virtually unexplored harmonic potential in a call-and-response conversation with McPherson over Slavov’s walking bass line. On his own “Green City”, a lyrical line a bit like “They’ll Never Be Another You”, the pianist played with a boppish originality. The set’s final selection “Alameda”, an exciting modal original by the leader with an elusive rhythmic feel, provoked
impassioned performances by the entire band, especially the shrieking Burton and Ortiz, who gave positive meaning to the term intelligent design. (RM) - All About Jazz - NYC

"Cuba Libre"

Jazz fans applaud, and novices mark your calendars. Aruan Ortiz, critically acclaimed Cuban pianist and jazz musician, is a "must see." Recognized as a virtuoso by critics around the globe, Ortiz has helped usher Cuban music into the European and American mainstream. - New York Post

"Aruan Ortiz Quartet"

Watched the Cuban pianist build a set from the ground up last week. He did so in a very roundabout way, with instruments drifting in and out as needed - a sax figure here, some drum flurries there. It upended clubland's standard operating procedure, and it made the room focus on each of the music's many turns. Utterly refreshing. - The Village Voice

"Pan-American Jazz"

Pianist Aruán Ortiz was born in Cuba, but it would be misleading to call him a 'Cuban jazz musician.' He's a jazz musician, period. For Ortiz, composition and ensemble cohesion are more important than his own estimable virtuosity. And his 10-minute solo 'Se Vale Soñar' puts him in another category altogether — his own. - Boston Phoenix


Alameda, Aruan Ortiz Quartet (unreleased, 2007)

Aruan Ortiz Trio, Vol. 1 (Pimienta/Universal2004)

Impresion Tropical, Aruan Ortiz (Magic Music/Universal, 1996)

Junjo, Esperanza Spalding (Ayva Musica, 2005)

Notes on Canvas, Arturo Stable (Origen Records, 2005)

The Definitive Tribute to Miles Davis, Various artists (Columbia Records, unreleased)

The Power of Identity, Adam Kinski (2002)

La Isla de la Musica: A compilation of young Cuban talents (Magic Music/Universal, 1996)

Por tu sonrisa, José Aquiles (EGREM, 1995)



Jazz pianist Aruan Ortiz, “the latest Cuban wunderkind to arrive in the United States,” hit the ground running when he came on the American jazz scene in 2003.

A former classically trained violist and pianist, this Santiago de Cuba native’s sound is as marked by the influence of Bach, Mozart, Liszt as by traditional Afro Cuban sounds and jazz greats Bud Powell, Art Tatum, and Thelonious Monk. After winning Best Cuban Composition at the Symposium of Cuban Music in Jamaica in 1995, Aruan was discovered by the Spanish record label Magic Music/Universal Latino, which brought him to Spain. There he participated in the compliation project La Isla de la Musica (1996), which was acclaimed by the international press and recognized as one of the first albums to bring Cuban music to the European and American mainstream.

The same year, Aruan continued developing his sound and recorded his first album as a soloist, Impresión Tropical (Universal Latino, 1996), a compilation of traditional Cuban music and original piano solo compositions. Soon afterward, Aruan was awarded a series of scholarships to study classical piano with celebrated Cuban pianist and educator Cecilio Tieles at the Professional Conservatory in Vilaseca, Spain, and jazz piano with Joanne Brackeen and Danilo Perez at the Berklee College of Music.

Aruan’s jazz career took off as a sideman in Barcelona and Paris, playing with Antoine Roney, Horacio Fumero, Mayte Martin, Salvador Nieblas, Pierre Boussaguet, Stephan Belmondo, Sarah Morrow, Tata Güines, Miguel “Anga” Díaz, and later in the U.S. with Wallace Roney, Roy Hargrove, Stefon Harris, George Garzone, Sheila E., Horacio “El negro” Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Lionel Lueke, Eric McPherson, Abraham Burton, Jane Bunnett, Jerry Bergonzi, Hal Crook, John Lockwood, Bob Moses, Baron Browne, and Bruce Gertz. While in Europe he was the recipient of various awards including Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000) and Semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001). When he migrated from Spain to the U.S., Aruán participated in the recording of the definitive Miles Davis tribute record on Columbia Records with Davis’ nephew Vince Wilburn, Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, and Missy Elliot.

While Aruan considers himself a jazz musician before a Cuban jazz musician, he incorporates Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Cuban rhythmic elements into his compositions. Nowhere is this more evident than the debut album of his trio, Vol. 1 (un mandarin en el espacio). With Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov and fellow Cuban Francisco Mela, Aruan delves into the creative process of the trio format in the real-time composition of melodic phrases that are clearly influenced by the rhythms of his Cuban antecendents, but also recall the stylings of Andrew Hill and Phineas Newborn.

Aruan comments about his trio, “The musical creation process that I have with Mela and Peter when we play together, it’s an adventourus search for a truth, which in its essence can give us freedom, energy, and above all a consciousness that in order to transmit the magic of music we must love, believe, and grow with what we do.”

Aruan’s virtuosity with jazz forms attracted the attention of the free jazz masters The Fringe in 2004. Following in the footsteps of jazz greats Joe Lovano and Kenny Werner, Aruan was invited to play a series of concerts with this legendary group.

Aruan’s ability to subtly incorporate world music elements into avante garde jazz sound has led him to collaborate with numerous emerging artists on albums such as Esperanza Spalding’s , “Junjo,” Ayva Musica, 2005;
Arturo Stable’s, “Notes on Canvas,” Origen Records, 2005; and the Chie Imaizumi Big Band, “Change for the Better,” 2005. Speaking to his roots in the traditional jazz language, in 2006 Aruan was invited to play Nat King Cole’s music in Monroe Kent III’s solo performace “Unforgettable,” The Nat King Cole Story, at the Stoneham Theatre in Massachusetts.

In 2005, in an effort to expand his range of expression, Aruan formed a quartet with saxophone player Abraham Burton, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Eric McPherson. The group has regularly been taking on the critical jazz ear of the New York City public at Smalls since late 2005 to excellent reviews. The New York Post raves, “Jazz fans applaud, and novices mark your calendars. Aruan Ortiz, critically acclaimed Cuban pianist is a ‘must see,’” and All About Jazz – New York says, “Ortiz give[s] positive meaning to the term intelligent design.”

In addition to his trio and quartet projects, Aruan also works as an assistant professor of Afro-Cuban Jazz studies at Berklee College of Music, and has given workshops and clinics in jazz and Cuban music at Longy School of Music, Wichita State University, Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI), Berklee College of Music in U.S, Taller de Musics, Nadia & Lili Boulanger Conservatoire and Bill