From the Heart is a tribute to the "Golden" era of the great Jazz Band Orchestras in Cuba. I was very lucky to be around during that time.
My first experience with a Jazz Band Orchestra as a pianist and arranger was in 1970, during my years in the Military Service, where I was a member of "The Orquesta de Aficionados" at the military hospital in Marianao, Havana, Cuba. The trumpet player Manuel Palau was the Director of that orchestra. It was a small Jazz Band using the format of three Saxes (2 tenors and 1 alto), three trumpets, rhythm section, and three singers.
At that time, there were many Jazz Band orchestras in Havana in places like the Tropicana, Salon Rojo (Capri Hotel), Palermo Club in downtown Havana; Copa Room (Havana Riviera Hotel), Parisien (National Hotel), Caribe Cabaret (Habana Libre Hotel).
I used to escape from the military base to visit all those clubs, so I could see the orchestras performing at night. I was fascinated with the sound created by the combination of horns and saxophones. My dream was to one day play in one of those orchestras.
I finished my military service in 1973 and three years later, in 1976, when pianist Chucho Valdes formed his legendary "Irakere," he asked me to replace him in the "Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna." German Piferrer was the Director of this great orchestra, and he introduced me to the art and tricks of the Big Band Orchestras.
I learned orchestration watching the scores of the greatest arrangers, like Rafael Somavilla, Armando Romeu, Rembert Egues, and German Piferrer.
Because of this experience, a few years later I became one of the most sought-after arrangers in Cuba. I spent most of my time working in several productions at the EGREM Studios, arranging for the most important singers in Cuba like Omara Portuondo, Miriam Ramos, Beatriz Marquez, Silvio Rodriguez, while at the same time working in all the Cabaret-shows in Havana and Varadero with German Piferrer and Demetrio Muniz, arranger of Buena Vista Social Club.
I moved to Canada in 1998 and since then I have become part of the Canadian scene. The great Bass player and friend Roberto Occhipinti, with all his enthusiasm and support, encouraged me to make my dream come true. Together, we formed a Latin Jazz Band with the cream of the best Canadian and Cuban musicians. Our first performance was at "The Distillery Jazz Festival" 2005, which was successfully acclaimed by the press.
After several performances in Ontario, Peter Cardinale, President of Alma Records, decided to make a recording with this wonderful orchestra.
"From the Heart" is a nine-song compilation written in Cuban Jazz style, using the Jazz Band format with five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and Cuban rhythm section with drum kit. In this record, I cover the main styles of Cuban music, like Guaracha, Bolero, Danzon, Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, and Bembe.
- Hilario Duran (www.hilarioduran.com/from_the_heart.htm)