For the young, expatriate Cuban musician to survive the many assaults on the character of his music from all ends of the musical spectrum must be a remarkable event. Surely it must take a rock-solid technique to preserve his chops and his tumbao.
Not only is this evident from the first few notes that Yoel Diaz plays on the piano, but the maturity of his playing and his ability to follow through on a viscous near-miraculous stream of ideas with conviction shows him to be a young musician with immense courage and natural ability.
His ebulliently titled album, Encuentros (Yoel Diaz Cuban Jazz Session) might have been mistaken for a real Cuban descarga were it not for the tilt towards more song-length charts that Diaz favors throughout the album.
The most striking aspect of Yoel Diaz’s pianism is his outstanding technique; his right hand works flawlessly in a series of filigrees waves, narrow and wide arcs, punctuated with swift jabs and thrusts as he recreates the shuffles and runs and arpeggios that burst out of his dynamic musical brain.
While all this is happening, his left hand dances in pirouettes and stupendous leaps, and death-defying plummets as he digs out—almost by magic—the melodic bass line that rumbles and gyrates in a body-busting manner as it parries and ducks against the melodic line of the song itself.
Magically, through it all, Diaz never runs out of ideas and more than this these ideas are strenuously thought out and magnificently exercised and expressed almost as if they were brought to fruition by meticulously crafting their sequences note by note.
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