Coaches 20/21

David Virelles

Santiago de Cuba-born pianist David Virelles grew up in a musical home, his father a Nueva Trova singer-songwriter and his mother a flutist in the Santiago symphony and music teacher.

Even though classically trained at the conservatory, he was also surrounded by many types of music in the culturally rich Santiago while growing up. Eventually, Virelles also discovered Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Andrew Hill and Don Pullen, and he would soon start studying the connections between this musical tradition and those from his birthplace.

After studying in Toronto (at the invitation of Canadian musician Jane Bunnett), he relocated to New York City in 2009 to study composition with Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Threadgill. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation. He has performed and recorded with musicians as distinct as Threadgill, Mark Turner, Paul Motian, Andrew Cyrille, Chris Potter, Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Harrell, Hermeto Pascoal, Milford Graves, Ravi Coltrane, Marcus Gilmore and Román Díaz.

Virelles is a Shifting Foundation Fellow, a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts, Louis Applebaum Award, Cristobal Díaz Ayala Travel Grant and The Jazz Gallery Commission. He was named #1 Rising Star in the Piano category by DownBeat in 2017. While a student at Humber College in Toronto he won the Oscar Peterson Prize, presented by Peterson himself. Virelles has also been mentored by jazz piano legend Barry Harris.

David’s 2012 releaseContinuumended up on many “Best Of The Year” lists, including The New York Times. Since then, he has released three albums on the Munich label ECM to critical acclaim, documenting a wide artistic range –Mbóko,Antenna, andGnosis. His latest releaseIgbó Alák?rin (The Singer's Grove) Vol I & II- a joint effort between his label El Tivoli Music and NY label Pi Recordings - is a celebration of the musical history of Santiago de Cuba. The album, which has garnered wide critical acclaim, features Santiago music legends and it was recorded at the Siboney E.G.R.E.M. Studios in this southeastern Cuban town. 

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