Lord, who was named in 2015 as one of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of the Year: Key Influencers, first visited Cuba in May following President Obama’s loosening of restrictions imposed by the nearly 60-year old embargo. Less than a year after these steps towards normalizing relations, Lord returned to the country for the recording of works by living composers with Cuban musicians.
The resulting double-length album, ABRAZO: THE HAVANA SESSIONS, features works for big band, small jazz combo, choir, and chamber ensembles by composers Bunny Beck, Roger Bourland, Donald Bowyer, Margaret Brandman, John Carollo, Timothy Miller, Mel Mobley, and Michael Murray, performed by current or former members of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, the Buena Vista Social Club, Irakere, and many more.
“Producing new music by living composers is my passion, and hearing musicians play with this level of preparation, dedication, and ingenuity was invigorating,” says PARMA CEO Bob Lord. “ABRAZO was the natural album with which to launch Ansonica Records, a label that will feature unusual, striking hybrids of genre and style like those heard on the streaming sampler.”
PARMA’s work has been greeted with enthusiasm by both the Cuban musicians and by the composers whose work was recorded. Composer Timothy Miller commented, “The pianist isn’t playing what I wrote. He’s playing what I wanted.”
Havana native Dayron Ortega, PARMA’s Lead Producer in Cuba, was responsible for managing the production of many of the pieces. “The changes in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. are exciting for everyone,” says Ortega, “and I believe that the work PARMA is doing is extremely important for the cultural collaboration between our countries.”
PARMA will return to Cuba in April 2016 for its next round of recording sessions.
Visit the Ansonica site to hear four tracks from ABRAZO: THE HAVANA SESSIONS including:
“Warm Winds in Havana, Prelude, Havana Promenade” by Margaret Brandman
“Impressions” by Bunny Beck (arranged by Juan Manuel Ceruto)
“Alarcón Madrigals, Book 3, Movement 2, Lamentario” by Roger Bourland
“Hot Miami Nights, Movement 1” by Timothy Miller