Aruan Ortiz
Santiarican Blues Suite
 Santiarican Blues Suite by Aruan Ortiz cover

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Track List: listen

Diaspora - 7:48
Pal Monte - 8:41
San Pascual Bailon - 3:13
Sagrado - 4:24
Jubilee/Comparsa - 11:12


Aruan Ortiz - piano
Katya Mihailova - piano
Zoe Hillengas - flute
Francisco Salazar - violin
Luis Casals - violin
Machiko Ozawa - violin
Samuel Marchan - viola
Brian Sanders - cello
Pedro Giraudo - acoustic bass
Anthony Morris - acoustic bass
Mauricio Herrera - percussion

"The Suite blends contemporary classical with forms of Afro-Haitian music dating back to the 19th century. The compositions of the Suite are based on the African minuet form that originated in Haiti and has become a standard musical format in Oriente (aka tumba francesa). There are five separate movements that each present a unique Afro-Cuban style.

The first movement “Diaspora” is a tribute to the Haitians that were taken from their homeland to Cuba to work in the sugar fields. Master Cuban percussionist Mauricio Herrera’s pace on drums mirrors the uncertainty and dread experienced by the immigrants upon their arrival on foreign soil. This is an extremely effective and emotive journey through the psyches of the displaced, full of tension and drama.

“Pal Monte” begins with a lovely solo vocal that leads into the tumba francesa’s celebratory form. The tumba francesa is a song form native to Oriente and typically accompanies a dance with drums and trumpets as accompaniment. This adapted rendition showcases traditional Haitian percussion instruments, including the catá (wooden xylophone).

Dancing flute, piano and drums begin the third movement, “San Pascual Bailón.” This movement is inspired by the Catholic procession in honor of the Saint. The rhythm accompanying the performers is called the tango haitiano (identified by its syncopation on the fourth beat), which was the origin of the contradanza criolla.

“Sagrado” begins with a lovely string introduction echoing the classic Cuban song “Perla Marina” by famed composer Sindo Garay. The melancholy theme builds between densely clustered string harmonies, showing the modern classical influences of the composer. Percussion sweeps in a mild dust up leading to the flute call, signaling the final movement.

The flute fanfare leads to a quietly stringed section at the beginning of “Jubilee/Comparsa.” The repeated flute melody is interspersed with an ever-expanding string motif. There is a slow buildup as the European and African musical elements come together in a Créole celebration that is meant to represent the Cuban musical legacy that holds such an important place in modern music.

The Suite is a moving tribute to an amazing cultural legacy that was made possible by the blending of music and dance of the Haitian-African and Western-Spanish traditions.


Aruan Ortiz's "Santiarican Blues Suite" is reviewed in the July 2012 issue of Jazz Magazine (France).

Vincent Cotro, Jazz Magazine - July 2012     Read the full article

John Ephland gives Aruán Ortiz's "Santiarican Blues Suite" 4 1/2 stars!

John Ephland, DOWNBEAT - July 2012     Read the full article

Nice review of Aruan Ortiz's Santiarican Blues Suite in JazzTimes.

Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes - August 2012     Read the full article

Very nice feature for Aruan Ortiz in Jazz News (France).

Francisco Cruz, Jazz News - October 2012     Read the full article


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