Elio Villafranca
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Elio Villafranca


Band Jazz Latin


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Elio Villafranca @ Barbados International Jazz Festival

Barbados, Not Applicable, Barbados

Barbados, Not Applicable, Barbados

Elio Villafranca @ Ortleibs Jazzhaus

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Elio Villafranca @ Chris's Jazz Cafe

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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The best kept secret in music


It was in the boulevards of his native Pinar del Rio that music, dances and dialects of Congolese heritage were to ease [Villafranca] into the assorted African vestiges surrounding his childhood. Growing up next door to a local cultural center… surely helped to develop his loaded, technically superior, sharp and romantic pianism
- Hearsay

“It is not difficult to sort out Villafranca’s musicality, brute force, effervescence, topicality, virtuosic independence, patience, candor, and brazen delicacy. (His) unsullied writing remains freed from predictability. The performances touch varying moods, from festive to strongly introspective, and elicit their satisfying results without relying on anything but a lot of heart and brains. This recording is a welcome relief among both recent jazz and Latin jazz releases and it makes one wonders where Villafranca will go next. Wherever he goes, one must follow.”
- All About Jazz

Villafranca is at the level of his countrymen, Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba….one of our musical treasures, it is a pleasure to witness the evolution of a soon to be truly great artist. He emotes an expressive, emotional quality enhanced by his technically brilliant approach to the keyboard and his rhythmically complex original compositions…”
- Philadelphia Tribune

Villafranca proved to be the surprise of the night as he dug into the piano with a seasoned jazz flair. The influence of Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock and Chucho Valdés were obvious. But it was his ‘Garneresque’ use of block chords that gave a joyous harmonic lyricism. His intuition was right on the mark
- Latin Beat Magazine

“The musical history of Cuba is full of extraordinary pianists, and after listening (several times) to his new album Incantations/ Encantaciones, I am certain that Elio Villafranca is amongst the best representatives of the new generation of Cuban pianists and composers.”
- Paquito D'Rivera


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was born in the Pinar del Rio province of Western Cuba and classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Inspired by jazz and Afro Cuban music, Mr. Villafranca creates a unique cultural and musical fusion, with spirited, groundbreaking innovations. In 2003 Jazz Times Magazine recognized his reputation for musical excellence by selecting his debut album Incantations/Encantaciones (Universal/Pimienta) as one of the top 50 best jazz albums of the year. Since his arrival in the U.S., Mr. Villafranca has been involved in East and West coast jazz and Latin jazz scenes. Beyond mainstream press, Mr. Villafranca has gained recognition of Latin and jazz music elite. He has collaborated with Lenny White, Eric Alexander, Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, Ralph Peterson, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jon Faddis, Mark Egan, Terell Stafford, Eddie Henderson, Sonny Fortune, and Johnny Pacheco. Most recently Mr. Villafranca completed separate European tours with Grammy nominated Blue Note recording artists saxophonist Jane Bunnett, and guitarist Pat Martino. As part of Mr. Martino’s Quintet, Mr. Villafranca performed at various world-renowned venues including the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent, Belgium, the Blue Note Jazz Club in Milan, Italy, the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, the North Sea Jazz Festival at The Hague, Holland and Dizzy's Club "Coca Cola" at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Mr. Villafranca is the author of Cubano! The Evolution of Popular Cuban Piano Styles (in press), has composed and arranged original music soundtracks for PBS documentaries and a variety of independent films, and is resident professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Mr. Villafranca currently resides in New York City and is represented by Gail Boyd Artist Management. His new CD entitled The Source in Between will be released in Fall, 2005. Touring to support that CD will be saxophonist Eric Alexander, Contrabassist Jeff Carney, drummer Francisco Mela. Each of these musicians has toured nationally and internationally with world renowned recording artists.