Arts & Culture, Music

Top Cuban Musicians: Ernán López-Nussa

Cuba is an island country of only 12 million people, but its music has had an overwhelming and worldwide impact. The distinctiveness of its music reflects the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of the country. Whether it’s a seductive bolero, or the syncopated and hypnotic rhythm of guaguanco, Cubans blend genres with ease and aplomb. This versatility defines the most notable talent on Cuba’s vibrant and exciting music scene.

One remarkable example is renowned pianist and composer Ernán López-Nussa. Born in Havana in 1958 to an important art critic and an avid music lover, López-Nussa, explains that he “grew up in an artistic environment”. At an early age he began to literally play with the piano in his living room, something , he concludes, “turned into a career that continues until today”.

Classically trained, Ernán defines his music as Cuban Jazz. His first musical epiphanies came from listening to records of Miles Davies, Count Basie, Winton Kelly and Louis Armstrong. But it was popular Cuban music that really fired his passion. Today it is in the confluence of these genres where he finds himself most comfortable. As he explained to us, “Cuba’s traditional music is essential in my music – I feed from it and it also allows me to build an atmosphere full of Cuban nuances, whether it’s in my improvisation or in my compositions.” Ernán’s music is also influenced by classical music icons, and he cites J Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin,Haydn, and Bartók as particularly important.

Ernán successfully merges different voices into something personal and his own. In the video above, along with stellar bassist Gastón Joya Perellada and legendary drummer Enrique Plá, Ernán performs at’s Divino Tuscany which was hosted by music legend Sting at his Tuscan estate. The piece performed is his own “Lobo’s Cha”, a piece that has the virtuosity of improvisation but offers the proximity and warmth of Cuban traditional music.

He performs worldwide, but is most at home in Havana.

*This is a part of a series of top Cuban musicians we are going to feature on Stay tuned for more!