Cuban Pianist David Virelles Scores a Big Hit at Spoleto Festival USA

L-r Jazz pianist David Virelles, Xavier Moye, father of slain Black Lives Matter hero Muhiyidin El Amin Moyé and Spoleto Festival USA jazz adviser Larry Blumenfeld pose for a photo after Mr. Virelles’ May 26, 2019 performance. (Photo: Mikah November)

By Hakim Abdul-Ali

Gifted Cuban Pianist David Virelles performed at Spoleto Festival USA over the past weekend with six performances given at the Simons Center Recital Hall, which is located on the College of Charleston’s campus. His performances began on May 25 and concluded on May 28, with three of the shows featuring his collaboration with celebrated featured guest, Afro-Cuban percussionist, scholar and composer Román Díaz.

David Virelles is consequential jazz pianist, pure and simple, hailing originally from Santiago, Cuba, and he’s is a momentously blessed artist of playing the ivory. He is a talented jazz musician type, who is distinctly proud of his Cuban musical flavorings and classical influences which run through his veins.

The thing I enjoyed about this polite musical prodigy is that he’s a really legitimate grand musical composer of music reaching extreme depths coupled with gentle soulful sensitivities. This middle thirty aged gentleman, now calling Brooklyn, New York, home is a really nice guy, and he’s a class act, a trait that you don’t see too often today.

I had an opportunity to check him out on Sunday, May 26, for the first performance of his two shows on that day’s performing schedule. I also saw him on Monday, May 27, 2019, performing with the explosive Mr. Díaz on percussion as they both easily won over the audience’s attention with their exquisite Cuban flavorings, communal energies and pooled playing styles.

For now, I’m now going to focus on the solo May 26 David Virelles show where he started off by playing “Ida y Vvelta,” followed by “Tiempos” and then, “Sube La Loma, Complex,” tunes Mr. Virelles performed while tantalizing the ears and listening tastes of his listening audience. On that occasion, as his extraordinary and adept ability to play in tight and relaxed musical frames took over, he let everyone know why he’s doing what he’s doing on the piano.

If those above mentioned self-composed tunes weren’t enough, this very articulate and genuinely respectful musician played more of his original tunes from his personal arsenal of his very own composed masterpieces. They were the stirring “Wind Rose,””The Executioner,” “Transmission” and the exiting “Timbao.”

Mr. Virelles also played “Kirino Con Sutres” and “Son De La Loma,” which were not his originally composed pieces, but he took them to new heights of musical elegance.

The May 26 one hour concert was a definite occasion to be at if you wanted to witness someone who’s going to be heard of big time in the immediate near future. A committed composing and playing talent such as David Virelles doesn’t come around too often. His magnificent musical appearance in Charleston for Spoleto Festival USA Wells Fargo Series, hopefully, will signal to the world that he’s a definite up and coming player in jazz music.

As you many of you know from reading my cultural views and opinions in The Charleston Chronicle over the decades, especially, our coverage of Spoleto Festival related performances over the last thirty-five years, I speak frankly about those activities as I hear and see them to be. Well, please hear me out, David Virelles is one performer you’ll definitely being hearing a lot about because he’s that good, and he’s one heck of a gentleman to boot. I salute him on his talent and his overall genuineness. His performances in Charleston were top shelf. Be on the lookout for David Virelles in future.

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