Opera House, Wellington (7pm)
Sunday, June 11
To conclude a most excellent jazz festival the Sunday night show featured the Harold López-Nussa Trio featuring Harold on piano, his brother Ruy Adrian on drums and electric bassist Julio Cesar Gonzalez.
López-Nussa is a fluid, expressive, dynamic pianist – his opening piece showed his hands
near forming a blur as he pounced over the keys. His recordings are lovely, stately, but live there’s some real fire. Still in his 20s he’s a prodigy, a fearsome talent – and his drummer brother did his best to nearly upstage him several times – in fact the stage arrangement was just so – drums and piano to the fore, Gonzalez the anchor, sitting further back and in-between, smiling to himself as Adrian and López-Nussa exchanged mock-grimaces and delighted grins – in “battle” of a sort.
The brittle-beat percussion was something to watch – and hear. Dextrous and full of colour as woodblocks and bongos were struck in and around the cymbals, snare and toms. And though Ruy Adrian was a tower of strength and speed behind the kit he could also play at a whisper’s breath, stunningly dynamic.
The music – from 19th Century classical Cuban themes, to solo pieces, to a wonderful double-act where the two brothers played the piano together, percussively working at the music stand and the lid of the grand to punctuate the flourishes across the keys – was wonderful. Every piece. Every breathing space.
From son to salsa, rhumba to the cha-cha-cha, it was a masterclass in multi-discipline rhythms and gorgeous melodies. The electric bass – almost incongruous, you would expect acoustic in this type of trio, normally – gave a nice edge, subtle but probing, almost Stanley Clarke-esque; the perfect foil for the two flashy soloists.
The evening raced by with the audience hanging on to the edge of their seats for much of it, elated, impressed, all but blown away in fact.
A wonderful concert. And the perfect closing act to a spectacular jazz festival; the best in a decade or more.