I recently had the opportunity to listen to a sampling of new music from the composer and musician Mario Grigorov.  His new album is called Paris to Cuba.  This is what Mario has to say about his inspiration for the album…

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Every time I go to Paris, I get inspired. I start thinking about ways I can embrace the city and absorb its magic…

This album takes me back to my time there, and I reflect on how I have always enjoyed traditional and classical French music – been intrigued by the use of melody and sultry textures.  I started playing with some melodies on the piano; inspired by the Parisian mood and architecture, I was trying to re-create the buildings I had seen that stood like frozen compositions. The compositions I began to write would soon lend themselves to a melding with the energy and simplicity of the music I also love from Cuba, along with all of its influences.

It’s not always easy to combine styles of music from their technical anatomies, but I was in no way trying to do that here.  This album, inspired by my appreciation of both styles, came about from the feel-good spirit that both Paris and Cuba share. I must admit, working with my good friend Melissa Newman brought it all together; she embodies the spirit and beauty of these musical cultures.  Her voice created the perfect accent for this project.

The four songs I had the opportunity to listen to were great. Two were instrumentals, “Cuban Soil, Cuban Sun” and “Ice Hotel”, with a decidedly Latin sound but with a “big band” jazz feel to them. The second two songs, “Every Little Movement” and “Snake Eyes” had female vocals that were were sultry and classic.  Those two songs sounded just like something you would hear in an old school smokey jazz club and they were a lot of fun to listen to. From what I have heard from this album, it is an excellent accompaniment to a relaxing evening sitting back with your favorite cigar and sipping rum. I would recommend checking it out especially if jazz with a Latin influence sounds like something you would enjoy.

Here is some more “official” information about the album and the artist…

The ten tracks on Paris To Cuba are the embodiment of summertime. Composed and created by Mario Grigorov, the album’s sound conjures up beautiful complexions, mid-afternoon mojitos, linen garments, and vintage Cadillacs. This is music that immediately evokes an aural landscape, a narrative of striking up a wandering romance with a stranger, a “paseo” through Plaza Vieja or a sunset on the Seine. Lilting, sensual brass sections flirt with gentle vocals on “I See”, “Every Little Moment”, and “Snake Eyes”- the three tracks which feature singer, Melissa Newman. Blending hints of Pink Martini and Buena Vista Social Club, the percussion section laps as a wave on an empty beach. It is easy for the listener to get lost in the guitar solos, mysterious accordion and nostalgic, sweeping strings. This is not your typical jazz or world record.

Mario Grigorov, the mastermind behind the record, is best known for conceiving and creating the 1998 classical crossover hit, Aria, with composer Paul Schwartz. The album immediately landed on Billboard’s Classical Crossover chart, beating out a Philip Glass soundtrack, a John Williams/Itzhak Perlman collaboration, and even the London Symphony Orchestra’s Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. Writer Douglas Levy declared Aria as “the CD that could save classical music,” and the following two releases within the series also debuted within the Billboard Top 10 (where they remained for over two years). Aria sold over half a million copies worldwide and was licensed to Café Del Mar. Another music career highlight for Grigorov is was his groundbreaking debut record, Rhymes with Orange in 1994 (produced by Oscar Castro-Neves and Miles Goodman) about which All Music Guide said, “A virtuoso with a very strong classical influence but the ability to improvise masterfully, Grigorov
reworks ‘Body and Soul’ and performs 11 of his originals.”

Mario has scored countless acclaimed movies, among them Oscar winners and festival darlings; most recently, Lee Daniels’ Sundance (’09) success, Precious. The film, whose cast members include Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey, took home the ‘Grand Jury Award’ for best feature film and ‘Audience Choice Award’ at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. At the 1998 Hamptons International Film Festival, Mario was recognized with a ‘Best Original Score’ award for his work on Leonardo Ricagni’s El Chevrolé. Another film he composed music for is Taxi to the Dark Side, which won a 2008 Oscar for Best Documentary. Mario Grigorov is also the founder of Siblings Music, a New York City-based composition and production company started in 2005.

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