Sul sito Worldmusiccentral.org è stata pubblicata una intervista al sensazionale pianista cubano, ma newyorkese di adozione, Fabian Almazan, il cui album d'esordio Personalities è stato accolto con grande favore da critica e pubblico.
Ecco un estratto dell'intervista:
"I overheard some peers at my high school playing jazz. It caught my ear. When I started to realise that improvisation gave you the sort of freedom to be able to express yourself, it immediately appealed to me."
For the past four years he has held down a place in the Terence Blanchard Quintet, one of the most respected modern jazz combos in jazz-mad New York and the States in general. Naturally, it took considerable commitment combined with a prodigious talent for Almazan to reach that elite level in little more than a decade. As he observes in a matter of fact manner: "Anything that one tries to do well, unless you have a unique gift, requires a lot of work and it's not easy. I listened to all kind of jazz records, and tried to go out to jam sessions and play with different musicians. Little by little, you learn from your successes and failures."
The first jazz pianist to catch young Almazan's attention was the great Oscar Peterson. "His feel, his clarity were astounding to me. I thought he had a command over the instrument that was unparalleled." He also got very interested in Keith Jarrett. "He was a free sort of musician. I couldn't tell where he was coming at the music from, but I knew that pianistically, too, he also had a unique command over the instrument." Almazan also has a great deal of respect for Dave Brubeck, whom he studied under in California in 2003. He even got to perform with the great man. "That was amazing. I think it may have been "Take Five" I played with him, though it wasn't really planned. I played with him a couple of times after that. He's a very humble, brilliant man. I really appreciated the time I got to hang out with him."
Of the many great Cuban pianists, Almazan has been most influenced by Gonzalo Rubalcaba, a player/composer who has received no fewer than 14 Grammy nominations and two Awards. He's also a huge admirer of Rubén González, though he never saw the late Buena Vista Social Club star in live performance.
Although he admits to performing some traditional Cuban music and playing jazz with a Cuban inflection, Almazan considers himself to be an international player. "I'm a strong advocate of being from the world rather than from one country," he avers. "Music has so many avenues available that I find it a little unnecessary to try to box yourself into a genre. I feel that I'm Cuban regardless of what I play - it runs through my blood; it's my culture. I'm very proud to be Cuban but by the same token I'm very happy to have experienced a lot of different cultures and points of view."
Almazan finds the New York jazz scene nourishing. "It's certainly not as cutthroat and competitive as some people think... everybody seems to respect each other. I've never really felt a competitive edge. If anything, I've felt that people are very positive and nurturing. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to play with the Terence Blanchard Quintet - I've learnt an immense amount."...
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A questo link si può ammirare il video integrale del concerto che Almazan ha tenuto lo scorso 12 ottobre al Village Vanguard.
Ecco un video del Terence Blanchard Quintet con Almazan al piano, registrato al New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011: