Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band - Cry Me A River - 2024 JUNO Awards Winner
Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band – Cry Me A River – 2024 JUNO Awards Winner

The Celebrated Cuban-Canadian Composer and Piano-Master Hilario Durán Leads His 19-Piece Ensemble Featuring Special Guests Paquito D’Rivera and Horacio “El Negro” Hernández in a Stellar Big Band Recording – the First in 17 Years. Available September 8, 2023 Via Alma Records.

Hilario Durán brings the full scope of his artistry, the depth of knowledge of musical genres in the perfect storm of big artistry on Cry Me A River. The nine works on this recording are born of Durán’s Afro-Caribbean cultural topography but are also informed by his gifts for bending tradition and infusing his arrangements with unfettered improvisation.

Through the course of the album the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Durán actively throws overboard melodic, harmonic, and structural hooks that have become expressively blunted through overuse, building big band charts that bloom in color and texture and atmospheric beauty.

“I have waited almost twenty years to record another big band album,” Durán says. “But there was plenty of preparation for this moment,” Durán reveals. He refers to the four radio broadcasts of his compositions and arrangements with the great WDR Big Band in Koln, Germany. “It was great to showcase my music and to ‘workshop’ some new arrangements… aspects of the craft I learned working with the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna in Havana which I inherited from Chucho Valdés… So much to be grateful for the gift of music… it seemed that the time is right for this new album, Cry Me A River,” Durán muses.

Durán integrates a myriad of genres into his singular style on the album – traversing innovations that have made his music uniquely breathtaking. He points to “Claudia,” a song he arranged while he was touring as musical director with Valdés, and features Paquito D’Rivera on alto saxophone, as Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia.” “Fantasia Impromptu” is a kind of jazz-meets classical, via Brazil and Cuba, featuring D’Rivera on clarinet. “It is our way of honoring the classics – in this case, Chopin,” Durán says.

Of the title song, “Cry Me A River” Durán says: “Elizabeth Rodríguez is just fantastic on violin. In her solo she plays deep in the Cuban tradition and follows that with an incredible improvisation!” he says. “’Pacá por Juanito’ is a tribute to Juanito Márquez,” Durán explains, “He is one of the greatest musicians of Cuba, guitarist, composer and orchestrator for various large orchestras in the ’50s. I learned how to arrange for big band by studying his scores for some of those orchestras.” Another original is “Mambo y Tumbao.” “Here, I highlight both traditional forms (mambo) and the revolutionary innovators of Cuban music – the great Bebo Valdés, who invented the ‘batanga’ rhythm, and the influential bandleader Pérez Prado. And of course, ‘I Remember Mingus is a tribute to Charles Mingus, the great composer, bassist, and bandleader.

One name missing from the performance credits is Yailen Durán, the bandleader’s daughter. “She taught me all about hand-movements… everything I know about conducting,” Durán explains. “I owe the deepest gratitude to her for all my big band music… for Cry Me A River.”

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