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Aruán Ortiz Don Byron CD "Random Dances and (A)tonalities" selected The 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2018 by Billboard Magazine

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12/27/2018 by Ron Hart

10. Aruán Ortiz / Don Byron, Random Dances and (A)tonalities (Intakt) 

Twenty years after helping to usher in a new era for creative jazz with his chamber funk masterpiece Nu Blaxploitation, reedist Don Byron moves things forward in the duo realm with Random Dances and (A)tonalities, working in tandem alongside Antiguan pianist Aruán Ortiz that adds a warm, beating heart to the complexity of cubist jazz through an exhilarating dialogue that transcends generational and geographic boundaries. Bringing together Byron's Bronx and Ortiz's Santiago de Cuba for clarinet, saxophone and piano, this is the placid sound of two well-spent December days in Zürich, Switzerland, a deep chat between two East Coast cats amidst the snowcapped mountaintops of the Alps setting their scenery.

Listen to Aruán Ortiz piano solo live at BIMHUIS, Amsterdam featured in All About Jazz

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Aruán Ortiz is a rising piano star of such a sweeping contemporary technique, imagination and keyboard-power, to be an enthralling one-man band too. The Cuban-born musician incorporates different forms in his compositions, resulting in a unique new style which reflects his fascination for modern classical music as well as Afro-Cuban traditions, and for great jazz innovators such as Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk.

On this solo set, based on his album Cub(an)ism released last year on the Swiss art-label Intakt Records, Ortiz fuses hard-driving hooks, harp-like effects, thudding drum sounds and lyrical reflections on dissonance and intervals, uniting all of it with a creativity of pacing that constantly grips the attention.

Personnel: Aruan Ortiz: piano.

JAZZIZ MAGAZINE FEATURES NICOLE MITCHELL'S NEW ALBUM MAROON CLOUD (FPE 2018)

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with Maroon Cloud—recorded live in March 2017 at New York’s National Sawdust, [Nicole Mitchell]. applies a more limited instrumental palette, tackling the eight-movement work with a drumless chamber quartet featuring some of the most forceful voices in improvised music: Cuban pianist Aruán Ortiz, vocalist Fay Victor, and cellist Tomeka Reid… -Peter Margasak

INTAKT RECORD RELEASES THE NEW COLLABORATION BETWEEN ARUÁN ORTIZ AND CLARINETIST AND COMPOSER DON BYRON RANDOM DANCES AND (A)TONALITIES

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…these two musicians have made Random Dances and (A)tonalities not only one of the most beautiful albums of music to listen to, but also a musical palimpsest that new generations of musicians are going to go return to in order to gain a greater understanding of the interconnectedness of all music as we know it. Raul Da Gama, Jazz DaGama

COLLABORATIVE ALBUM "WINGED SERPENTS, SIX ENCOMIUMS FOR CECIL TAYLOR" (TZADIK 2018) FEATURED AT ROLLING STONES MAGAZINE

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At around 11 minutes into “Unveiling Urban Pointillism,” one of the disc’s six solo pieces, the Cuban-born Aruán Ortiz makes his way into a remarkable passage, abstract yet focused. He keeps up a busy, restless pitter-patter in the high register, sprinkling in ear-catching clusters of sustained notes — the sonic equivalent of rain drizzling on a roof. Ortiz isn’t mimicking Taylor. But at the same time, the episode seems inescapably post-Cecil, unthinkable without the example of genre-transcending imagination and intense physicality the elder musician set during his monumental 60-plus-year career. Hank Shteamer, Rolling Stones Magazine.