Recently named one of four young pianists on the rise by the New York Times, Cuban born pianist and composer David Virelles grew up in a musical home. His father is a professional singer-songwriter and his mother is a flautist in the Santiago de Cuba Symphony. He started studying classical music at the age of seven, as well as being exposed to the large array of Cuban music styles. Eventually, David discovered his grandfather’s jazz collection and also became interested in that tradition.
In 2001, he left for Canada as a protégé of Canadian musician Jane Bunnett, with whom he recorded several albums (two of them Grammy nominated), toured and collaborated with on a number of projects.
While in Canada, David graduated from the music program at Humber College. He studied privately with pianist Barry Harris and has also studied composition with the influential composer Henry Threadgill, which had a profound impact in Virelles’ artistry.
Over the years he has performed and/or recorded with: Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Henry Threadgill, Dewey Redman, Sam Rivers, Hermeto Pascoal, José Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Stanley Cowell, Rudresh Mahantappa, Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Mark Turner, Paul Motian, Ben Street, Chris Potter, Ravi Coltrane, Jeff Ballard, Miguel Zenón, Wadada Leo Smith, among others.
In 2003 he became the first recipient of the Oscar Peterson prize, presented by Peterson personally. His debut album, Motion, was released in 2007 on the label Justin Time, after winning the Grand Prix de Jazz Award at the Montréal Jazz Festival that year.