With the release of The Source In Between, Elio Villafranca once again demonstrates why he’s at the forefront of the generation of remarkable Cuban pianists, composers and bandleaders that for several years has been making major creative contributions to the international development of modern jazz. Leading a core quartet featuring tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Jeff Carney and the Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, Villafranca presents a program of nine originals and a Latin re-mix of the CD’s title track that goes a step beyond the stylistic terrain he explored on Incantations/Encantaciones, his solo recording debut from 2003 that was named one of that year’s top 50 jazz CDs by JazzTimes....
Growing up next door to a local cultural center... surely help to develop his loaded, technically superior, sharp and romantic pianism. —JazzTimes
It is not difficult to sort out Villafranca’s musicality, brute force, effervescence, topicality, virtuosic independence, patience, candor, and brazen delicacy… This recording is a welcome relief among both recent jazz and Latin jazz releases and it makes one wonders where Villafranca will go next. Wherever he goes, one must follow. —All About Jazz
Villafranca is at the level of his countrymen, Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba... one of our musical treasures, it is a pleasure to witness the evolution of a soon to be truly great artist. He emotes an expressive, emotional quality enhanced by his technically brilliant approach to the keyboard and his rhythmically complex original compositions... —Philadelphia Tribune
Villafranca proved to be the surprise of the night as he dug into the piano with a seasoned jazz flair. The influence of Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock and Chucho Valdés were obvious. But it was his 'Garneresque' use of block chords that gave a joyous harmonic lyricism. His intuition was right on the mark. —Latin Beat Magazine
To those who say that music is the universal language that does not stop for styles, this is your release. Elio Villafranca has put together a very special hour of Latin that is jazz and jazz that is Latin. This is a fire-blown instrumental CD. [Villafranca] really knows how to shake a keyboard sound. He will often glide over all 88 with an ease usually kept for God's grown prodigies of classical music. —Latin American Rhythm Magazine
The bilingual title of Elio Villafranca's debut CD, Incantations Encantaciones (Universal Latino), is fitting given that there's as much Herbie Hancock as there is Chucho Valdes in his playing. The pianist left Cuba for Philly in 1995 (he has since made the leap to NYC), arriving with a solid knowledge of American jazz as well as the music of his native island. —City Papel Musicpicks
Elio Villafranca fits the mold set by Ruben Gonzales and those Cuban pianists before him, but you never doubt his originality. [Incantation/Encantaciones] is an adventurous study of feelings. Until you see Villafranca perform, with eyes zonked out in contemplation of the keys, you may not put him in the same serious light as Monk, Corea or Mingus, but he warrants the comparison. —Splendid Reviews
Elio Villafranca is the latest in the dynasty of great Afro-Cuban pianists to transplant his own exquisite combination of jazz, classical and Latin American influences to North American shores. The Bronx-based composer cites Schoenberg and Santer'a, with a keyboard mastery that is at times driving, at times lushly romantic. Definitely one for jazz fans to keep an eye on. —Independent
Dos Y MasMotéma Music
The Source In BetweenCeiba Tree Music
Incantations EncantacionesPimienta Records
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