Aruán Ortiz, “the latest Cuban wunderkind to arrive in the United States” (BET Jazz), hit the ground running when he came on the American jazz scene in 2003. A former classically trained violist and pianist, this Santiago de Cuba native’s sound is as marked by the influence of the contemporary classical composers such as Schoenberg, Ravel, and Copland as by traditional Afro Cuban sounds and jazz greats Bud Powell, Art Tatum, and Thelonious Monk.
Aruán’s jazz career took off in Europe after being recipient of various awards including Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000) and Semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001). He soon became a first call pianist in Barcelona and Paris. Since arriving in the US, he has played steadily with Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, and Cindy Blackman. He has also played or recorded with Esperanza Spalding, Gary Thomas, Wayne Krantz, Rasheed Ali, Stefon Harris, Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Giovanni Hidalgo, George Garzone, Jane Bunnett, and Jerry Bergonzi among other great jazz artists.
Aruán considers himself “a curious person who loves music”, and incorporates classical music, Middle Eastern, African, and Afro Cuban rhythmic elements into his compositions. This is evident in his recordings Impresión Tropical, Universal 1996; Aruán Ortiz Trio, Vol. 1 (Ayva/Pimienta/Universal, 2004); and Alameda (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009), which received 4 stars in the Jazzwise magazine from UK and named it one of the Top Ten Jazz CDs of the year.
Aruán’s ability to subtly incorporate world music elements into avant-garde jazz makes his sense of creativity unique and recognizable in different styles. This musical vision led him to be featured on dozens of albums such as the Flamenco influenced recording Evocación by Raynald Colom (Ad Lib Arts/Harmonia Mundi 2009), Jure Pukl‘s Crazy (2010) Esperanza Spalding’s Junjo (Ayva Música, 2005), Arturo Stable’s Notes on Canvas (Origen Records, 2005) and Calls (Origen Records, 2009), Russell Kirk’s Path to Journal Square (Inner Circle Music, 2009), Christoph Seigrist’s Welcome to the Blues World (Fresh Sound 2010), Ligia França’s Meu mundo e hoje (Caligula Records 2010). In 2010, Aruán recorded on the innovative jazz album by Wallace Roney, If Only for One Night (High Note) and was invited by flutist Mark Weinstein to produce and arrange a CD, “El Cumbanchero,” inspired by the traditional music of Cuba for string quintet, flute, piano and percussion. He won 2011 Latin Jazz Arrangement of the Year for the title track.
The music of his upcoming CD Santiarican Blues Suite (Sunnyside Records, 2012) was commissioned by the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre for the 25th anniversary of the company and heralded as “one of the finest works of modern music” by Latin Jazz Network. The ballet “Pagan or Not” by Jose Mateo was selected one of the best ballet performances in New England in 2011.
Aruán Ortiz is a critically acclaimed and recognized performer, composer, producer and educator on the New York City scene and around the world.