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Jazz in The Garden
July 24, 2018 | 7:30 pm
With a decade of experience and success in the international jazz community, Havana native Dayramir Gonzalez is ready to take New York City by storm. His innovative style, energetic performances, and impressive musical scholarship have gained him recognition and awards many artists only dream of. But Gonzalez is looking forward, to his next decade, and is prepared to make it even better than the last.
Gonzalez was born in the humble Havana neighborhood of Cerro, during what is referred to in Cuba as “the special period” and known as one of the toughest economic times in Cuba’s history. Although the island severely lacked many of the basic necessities, it continued to support and promote musical education on the island. Gonzalez’s young life centered on music. His father, Fabian Gonzalez, (a successful Afro-Cuban jazz trumpet player) became a driving force and inspiration in his musical development. At the age of eight he began attending Paulita Concepcion Elementary School of Music, where he found his instrument, the piano. He was later accepted to Cuba’s famed National High School for the Arts (ENA). Gonzalez kept busy during his time at ENA. In his first year at there, at the age of 16, former Irakere singer and percussionist Oscar Valdes discovered him. He was invited to become a founding member, pianist and composer for Diakara. After three successful years with Oscar, Cuban drumming legend, Giraldo Piloto discovered Gonzalez, yet again and invited him to join Klimax, and would perform and record with them for the next six years.
In 2004, he won first place in performance at the annual JoJazz festival and competition known as Havana’s top venue for up and coming jazz performers. In 2005, he won first place in the composition category and won his first record deal with the national record label Colibri. He recorded his first album with his recently founded group Habana enTRANCé, which became for him the perfect platform to develop his skills as artist, bandleader, and composer. This album would later win three Cubadisco, known as the Grammy’s of Cuba, for Best Debut Album, Best Jazz Album, and Best Engineered Recording.
Gonzalez was accepted to the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, where he spent four years studying composition with renowned professor Juan Piñera. Even with his intensified workload and studies, Gonzalez was invited by now long-time friend and mentor Chucho Valdes to open the Havana Jazz Festival in 2008. This prestigious invitation proved as a sign for what was to come. In 2009, Gonzalez received an exciting invitation to prepare an application and audition for the venerable Berklee School of Music in Boston. His acceptance to the school made him the first Cuban national to receive a full scholarship. In 2011, in only his second year at the institution, Gonzalez was signed by Berklee’s Jazz Revelation Records and became the face of the label. In that same year, he was selected as one of the top five pianists in Berklee’s annual Piano Gala, performing at the Berklee Performance Center. In 2012, he was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of their Voices of Latin America series, along with Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, Egberto Gismonti and Aldo Lopez-Gavilan. His performance was later featured in the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, Gonzalez graduated Berklee Summa Cum Laude, after receiving the Wayne Shorter Award for Most Outstanding Composer of the Year.
After graduating, Gonzalez moved to New York where he currently resides. In his short time in the city Gonzalez has made his long time dream of creating his own space for musical education and development a reality by creating the “Art School of Contemporary Performance and Creativity.” This music school is based on the Cuban school of thought, which focuses on a more
comprehensive approach to music education at the elementary school level. His goal is to create musical education, which is accessible to all students and families, especially those in low-income neighborhoods.
It was also during this period that he decided to come back to the studio to record his second album, “The Grand Concourse.” This ambitious project presents Gonzalez not only as a performer, but also as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and bandleader. An album full of dynamic musical settings from string quartet, full orchestra, solo piano, choir, and Afro Cuban jazz septet.
Gonzalez is building his legacy in America, and is positioning himself as a leader in the Afro-Cuban Jazz community.