Cuban Piano 101: A Century Of Historic Grooves : Alt.Latino The piano is as much a defining sound of Cuban music as percussion. This week on Alt.Latino, we cover the way the country interprets Africa through the keyboard.

Cuban Piano 101: A Century Of Historic Grooves

Cuban Piano 101: A Century Of Historic Grooves

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Harold López-Nussa is part of a rich legacy of Cuban pianists. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Harold López-Nussa is part of a rich legacy of Cuban pianists.

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The first thing I think of when I consider Cuban music is the piano. I've spent most of my adult life playing Afro-Cuban percussion, so you'd think I would hear things differently.

Hear More Cuban Pianists

But actually, the piano is technically a percussion instrument in the grand scheme of European symphonic music. Nowhere is that truer than in Cuba, which has a rich legacy of interpreting Africa through the keyboard.

But don't take my word for it. This week, we're joined by pianist, composer and educator Rebeca Mauleón, who serves as Director of Education at SF Jazz. She's been studying and playing Cuban music for about as long as I've known her, and we go back a long time.

Mauleón recently put together a playlist of essential Cuban pianists for a lecture she did at SF Jazz, and she's been kind enough to share that list with us and discuss some of the pianists who've helped shape Cuban music. There are history lessons, sure, but also deep grooves to appreciate on this week's show.

Read Rebeca Mauleón's "Pianísimo: Cuban Piano Titans Across The Ages" at SFJazz.org.

Hear The Songs

Bebo. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Bebo Valdés

  • Song: Tú, habanera for piano
  • from Bebo [Sony]
YouTube

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Ernesto Lecuona

  • Song: Comparsa
  • from Lecuona Toca Lecuona, Vol. 1
YouTube

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Pedro "Peruchín" Justiz

  • Song: Mulata Rumbera
  • from Marques del Marfil
YouTube

Lucumi. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Chucho Valdés

  • Song: Mambo Influenciado
  • from Lucumi
YouTube

Mi Gran Pasion. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba

  • Song: Mi Gran Pasion
  • from Mi Gran Pasion
YouTube

El Pais de las Maravillas. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Harold López-Nussa

  • Song: Pa' Gozar
  • from Pais de Las Maravillas
YouTube

The Invasion Parade. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Alfredo Rodriguez

  • Song: Guantanamera
  • from The Invasion Parade
YouTube