The Squid's Ear Magazine

Virelles, David

Igbo Alakorin (The Singer's Grove) Vol. I & II

Virelles, David: Igbo Alakorin (The Singer's Grove) Vol. I & II (Pi Recordings)

Cuban born NY pianist David Virelles documents the musicians of his birthplace, Santiago de Cuba, home to musical styles such as son, changui, nengon, and conga, in two distinct projects: Volume I, where Virelles introduces Orquesta Luz de Oriente tracing the roots of the Cuban big band tradition; and Volume II, reinterpreting the piano music of iconic pianist Antonio Maria Romeu.

Price: $14.95


Out of Stock

Quantity in Basket: None

Log In to use our Wish List Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Sample The Album:

product information:


David Virelles-piano, chorus

Roman Filiu-alto saxophone

Baudelis Rodriguez-baritone saxophone

John Benitez-bass

Jose Angel Martinez-bass

Emilio Despaigne Robert-chorus

Jose Aquiles Virelles-chorus

Lazaro Bandera-congas

Alejandro Almenares-lead vocals

Emilio Despaigne Robert-lead vocals

Alejandro Almenares-requinto guitar, chorus

Rene La Flor Dominguez-tenor saxophone

Rafael Abalos-timbales, guiro, chorus

Abel Virelles-trumpet

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 808713007824

Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: Pi 78
Squidco Product Code: 26608

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Estudios Siboney, E.G.R.E.M., in Santiago De Cuba, Cuba, on March 1st - 7th, 2017.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Igbó Alákọrin (a phrase in Yoruba which can be loosely translated as The Singer's Grove) is the realization of pianist David Virelles's long-held dream to document the under-sung musicians of his birthplace, Santiago de Cuba. Virelles, who was named the #1 Rising Star Jazz Pianist in the 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll, is one of the most in-demand pianists on the contemporary jazz scene, recording with the likes of Henry Threadgill, Chris Potter, and Tomasz Stanko. He also has four prior releases under his own name, including Continuum, which topped the New York Times best album list for 2012. Legendary Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés calls Virelles "an innovator and a perfectionist, a young virtuoso who is the most creative and advanced of our jazz pianists."

The picturesque town of Santiago in the Oriente region of southeastern Cuba has historically been an important breeding ground for music on the island. It's the home to musical styles such as son, changüí, nengón, conga, as well as traditions inherited from Haiti. Since leaving home in 2001, each time Virelles returned he would make it a point to seek out and reconnect with the elders of Santiago's rich musical tradition, many of whom he knew as family friends through his parents who are also musicians. According to Virelles, "Growing up, I never really knew them as the super-important musical figures that they are; just as members of my extended family. It wasn't until after I immigrated that my perception of my own culture expanded partly because, ironically, I had more access to historic documents here than I ever did in Cuba. Now I feel a responsibility to further their legacy through exposing people to their work, as well as through my original contemporary work. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to assemble for this album some of the legends, all of whom are still at the peak of their craft. They have never received recognition beyond their Santiago community, but they remain arguably amongst the last living resources from our music's golden era. After years of thinking and planning, I am very excited that this dream has finally become a reality."

Igbó Alákọrin is made up of two distinct projects: Volume I - David Virelles Introduces Orquesta Luz de Oriente traces the roots of the Cuban big band tradition and encompasses various genres/styles associated with the rich musical legacy of Santiago: danzón Oriental, chepinsón, bolero and trova. In particular, it was conceived to showcase the music of Electo Rosell (Chepin, of the legendary Chepín-Chovén Orchestra) and Mariano Mercerón, who were important pioneers in the percussion-propelled Cuban big band sound of the 1930s. Their work was inspired by African-American groups, yet it had very profound rhythmic connections to folkloric lineages native to the Oriente region of Cuba. In its heyday, the Chepín-Chovén Orchestra was a fixture at many venues, including the sociedad de mulatos Luz de Oriente. This society club, which was located in a building still standing in Santiago, is the inspiration behind the name of Virelles's ensemble. It features the voices of Emilio Despaigne Robert, a veteran sonero (lead vocalist) of the Santiago group Los Jubilados, and Alejandro Almenares, who is also featured on his sublime requinto guitar. Many consider Alejandro - the son of trova legend Ángel Almenares - the last of the old style trovadores, a lineage dating back to the 19th century with deep roots in Santiago. The younger Almenares learned his craft at informal home gatherings from his father and his father's friends, which included Sindo Garay, one of the four greats of trova. The rest of the band include José Ángel Martínez (bass), who has recorded with Buena Vista Social Club's Eliades Ochoa; Lázaro Bandera (congas) is the director of La Conga de Los Hoyos, one of Santiago's foremost carnival music groups; Román Filiú (alto saxophone) who originally made a splash in Havana with Isaac Delgado and Chucho Valdés' Irakere in the 1990s and has since moved to New York where he has recorded with the likes of Henry Threadgill and David Murray as well as leading his own groups; René "La Flor" Domínguez (tenor saxophone), who has been a mainstay of the Santiago music scene for the last half century; Baudelis Rodríguez (baritone saxophone), a young talent who plays with the world-renowned Santiago-based Magic Sax Quartet; Abel Virelles (trumpet), David's younger brother who learned about Cuban styles of trumpet playing from the late Inaudis Paisán, who played with Chepín; José Aquiles Virelles (chorus), David's father who is a prominent nueva trova singer and composer with a career spanning 40 years; and Gabriel Montero (pailitas criollas, claves) who is a percussionist in the Grammy-winning Septeto Santiaguero.

On Volume II - Danzones de Romeu at Café La Diana, Virelles reinterprets the piano music of the iconic early-20th Century pianist/composer Antonio María Romeu, exploring his practice of playing danzónes accompanied only by güiro. The title refers to the legendary Café La Diana in Havana at which Romeu regularly performed starting the turn of the 20th Century. Virelles explores Romeu's signature harmonic, melodic and rhythmic devices, as well as specific left hand figurations on the piano. He is accompanied by the master güirero Rafael Ábalos, a danzón specialist and veteran of Oriente charangas such as Típica Juventud and Estrella De La Charanga. Ábalos has been an invaluable resource in realizing this entire project, hipping me to long lost and forgotten recordings, hooking up our rhythm team and passing on secrets of this much talked about but forever mystical genre of Cuban music, the danzón.

A product of deep historical and cultural research, Igbó Alákọrin is another chapter in Virelles's ongoing pursuit to create music that transcends the boundaries between the folkloric and contemporary to reveal an essence beyond any genre. It's also a homecoming that documents a collaboration with roots in family, community and culture. The sessions were recorded at Santiago's E.G.R.E.M. - Siboney studio, where Virelles grew up attending his father's late night recording sessions and made some of his first professional recordings. Unusual for a modern recording, all the musicians played in one room, and one immediately senses the music's urgency and power, with the instruments blending in a way that can only be achieved in that setting. The album has the feeling of having entered a time warp, juxtaposing music from a long bygone era that reflects Virelles's desire to preserve contextual, historical and cultural nuances with improvisational elements that reflect Virelles's experience in the New York jazz community. As Chucho Valdés says: "David's work is immersed in research. He knows our African roots with depth. Tradition and avant-garde come together in this offering of the highest order. What a marvel! Thank you, David, for making us happy and proud, and for updating our traditions." "-Pi Recordings

Artist Biographies

"Cuban-born pianist David Virelles grew up in a musical home, his father a singer-songwriter and his mother a flutist and music teacher. Even though classically trained at the conservatory, he also heard many types of music in the culturally rich Santiago while growing up. Eventually, Virelles also discovered Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill, and started studying the connections between this music and Cuban rhythms.

In 2003, David became the first recipient of the Oscar Peterson Prize, presented by Peterson himself. Since his arrival to NYC, he has appeared on live concerts and recordings with musicians as diverse as Steve Coleman, Mark Turner, Henry Threadgill, Andrew Cyrille, Chris Potter, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Harrell, Milford Graves and Ravi Coltrane.

David's 2012 release Continuum (Pi Recordings) united Andrew Cyrille, Ben Street and Román Díaz. This album ended on many "Best Of The Year" lists, including The New York Times. Since then, he has released three more albums on the Munich label ECM to critical acclaim, documenting a wide sonic range - Mbóko, Antenna, and his latest Gnosis."

-Pi Recordings (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"New York-based Roman Filiú has been a saxophonist, bandleader, composer for over 20 years. Born and raised in Santiago de Cuba, he has played, recorded, and toured worldwide with a great variety of artists. He is currently a member of Henry Threadgill´s Ensemble Double Up, and leads several groups himself such as Quarteria, which features David Virelles, Ralph Alessi, Matt Brewer, Dayna Stephens, Yusnier Sánchez, and Craig Weinrib as well as the Roman Filiú Quartet with Billy Hart, David Virelles, and Thomas Morgan. Among his many collaborations, Román has played in Chucho Valdés´Irakere (Grammy Award nominated Babalú Ayé, Grammy Award winning New Conceptions), has been the musical director of David Murray´s Big Band and has played with outstanding musicians Andrew Cyrille, Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Grammy Award nominated Antiguo), Steve Coleman Dafnis Prieto, Milford Graves, Miguel Zenón, Doug Hammond, Nasheet Waits, Michele Rosewoman, Omara Portuondo, Marcus Gilmore, Lázaro Ross, Alain Pérez, Iván Melón Lewis, Román Díaz, Damion Reid, Pablo Milanés, Liberty Ellman, Stephan Crump, Pepe Rivero, Adam Rogers, Rez Abassi, Roy Hargrove, and Chano Domínguez to name a few.

The musician has been a recipient of the Jazz Gallery Commission Series, the Langnau Jazz Fest Artist in Residence, the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Award, and the Lucas Artist Residency. He has established himself as a prominent and innovative composer through his work for numerous small ensembles and has written pieces for string quartet, solo piano and saxophone quartet. Roman has also released the albums Blowin' Reflections and Musae, which were praised by the press for their quality and depth."

-Roman Filiu Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Bodas De Oro 4:51

2. El Rayaero 5:23

3. Grato Recuerdo 3:22

4. Echa Pa' Alla 3:46

5. Canto A Oriente 2:49

6. Un Granito De Arena 4:38

7. Sube La Loma, Compay 5:24

8. Cosas De Mi Cuba 2:49

9. Ojos De Sirena 2:47

10. Tapame Que Tengo Frio 4:19

11. Tira La Cuchara Y Rompe El Plato 5:32

12. Mojito Criollo 4:01

13. Mares Y Arenas 3:08

14. Tres Lindas Cubanas 6:07

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Large Ensembles
Pi Records
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Song Based Music
Piano & Keyboards

Search for other titles on the label:
Pi Recordings.

Recommended & Related Releases:
Other Recommended Releases:
Douglas, Dave and Elan Mehler
If There Are Mountains
(Greenleaf Music)
Originally released as an LP on the French Newvelle Records label co-founded by pianist Elan Mehler, here reissued with four additional recordings of beautifully lyrical jazz pivoting around Japanese haiku's, from the sextet led by Mehler and NY trumpeter Dave Douglas with vocalist Dominique Eade, reedist John Gunther, bassist Simon Willson, and drummer Dayeon Seok.
Hoffman, Christopher
Asp Nimbus [VINYL]
(Out Of Your Head Records)
With many parallels to and collaborative work with Henry Threadgill, cellist Christopher Hoffman pens eight dynamic compositions for his superb quintet of Bryan Carrott on vibraphone, Rashaan Carter on bass, Craig Weinrib on drums and David Virelles on piano, merging melodic approaches to creative jazz with interesting structures and virtuosic soloing from all performers.
Stranger In Every Town
NY/East Coast Jazz vocalist Kosi presents her 5th album, a rewarding album of original songs that depict her experiences touring as an independent singer-songwriter through jazz idioms influenced by blues and rock forms, her strong voice emotional and expressive while supported by a core sextet of New York musicians; lyrical, solid, passionate.
Threadgill, Henry
Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus
(Pi Recordings)
Composer Henry Threadgill's Double Up band does not include Threadgill himself, but for this second release with the group he adds a 3rd piano (also doubling on harmonium) alongside two alto saxophones, cello, tuba, drums and percussion, the octet performing Threadgill's complex yet effortlessly intricate and distinctive compositions that allow his performers to shine.
Threadgill, Henry 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg
Dirt... And More Dirt
(Pi Recordings)
Composer, saxophonist and flutist Henry Threadgill presents 2 full-length works for his 15 piece band "14 or 15 Kestra: Agg", as he explores new ways of integrating composition with group improvisation, here using an entirely new system of improvisation based on preconceived series of intervals realized in multi-layered counterpoint, rigorous polyphony, and timbral contrasts.
Okazaki, Miles
(Pi Recordings)
Intricate interplay in modern jazz from guitarist Miles Okazaki in a quartet with fellow New Yorkers Craig Taborn on piano, Anthony Tidd on bass, and Sean Rickman on drums--Tidd and Rickman his compatriots in Steve Coleman and Five Elements--performing Okazaki's playfully complex and innovative compositions that drive some serious grooves.
Threadgill, Henry Ensemble Double Up
Old Locks and Irregular Verbs
(Pi Recordings)
Henry Threadgill's tribute to friend, composer-conductor Lawrence D. Butch Morris, in a detailed 4-part work with an excellent set of improvisers: Henry Threadgill, Jose Davila, Jason Moran, Christopher Hoffman, David Virelles, Roman Filiu, Curtis Macdonald, and Craig Weinrib.
Coleman, Steve & Five Elements
Functional Arrhythmias
(Pi Recordings)
Alto saxophonist Steve Coleman takes his long-standing M-Base band Five Elements ongoing study into patterns found in nature in an album of music reflecting the irrational rhythms found in healthy human heartbeat patterns.
Virelles, David
(Pi Recordings)
Cuban-born pianist David Virelles in a collaborative effort with legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille, bassist Ben Street, and Cuban folkloric percussionist/poet Roman Diaz, inspired by various aspects of Afro-Cuban religious practices.
Threadgill Zooid, Henry
Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp
(Pi Recordings)
Henry Threadgill and his Zooid band follow up the 2 part "This Bring Us To" series with this exceptional album of NY jazz, abstracting the jazz idiom in persuasive and stunning ways through great writing and playing.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought:
Smith, Ches (w/ Bill Frisell / Mat Maneri / Craig Taborn)
Interpret It Well
(Pyroclastic Records)
Expanding drummer and composer Ches Smith's working band of violist Mat Maneri and pianist Craig Taborn with guitarist Bill Frisell, who had joined the band for one live gig that felt so natural that recording as a quartet was a natural conclusion, heard here in seven compositions that allow room for band members to improvise or "Interpret" on the compositions themselves.
Carter, Daniel / Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Gerald Cleaver
Welcome Adventure! Vol. 2
(577 Records)
The 2nd of two studio albums from the quartet of Daniel Carter on saxophone & flute, Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums, recordings from the same sessions as the 1st volume with five shorter works, as the long-time collaborators and friends show their nearly telepathic rapport in adventurous and masterful modern jazz.
Parker, William (Parker / Carter / Drake)
Painters Winter
(Aum Fidelity)
A 2nd season from composer, improviser & bassist William Parker, after his 2000 Thirsty Ear release Painter's Spring, this new trio album with drummer Hamid Drake, wind player Daniel Carter performing on trumpet, flute and reeds, and Parker himself on bass, trombonium & shakuhachi, paint the season with sound as they celebrate the winter through visionary jazz music.
Feldman, Morton / Apartment House
Piano and String Quartet
(Another Timbre)
Inspired by the broadcast performance by The Apartment House ensemble of three works by Morton Feldman, Another Timbre requested that they record the exceptional late work of the minimalist composer, Piano and String Quartet, captured at Henry Wood Hall two months later in a stunning interpretation of this enigmatic work of sensually dissipating motion.
Sandell, Sten / Lisa Ullen
Double Music
(Clean Feed)
The first duo album by pianists Sten Sandell and Lisa Ullén, recorded in their home country of Sweden, performing eight freely improvised piano works which include the two-part "Double Music" and two-part "Onyx", each recording contrasting complex interplay of discord and harmony with beautiful passages of introspection and intellectual depth; a remarkable merging of masterful talent.
Hearth (Silva / Rasmussen / Rave / Draksler)
(Clean Feed)
Meeting for the 1st time at the 2016 October Meeting in Holland, the quartet performance there of Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, Mette Rasmussen on alto sax, Ada Rave on tenor sax & clarinet and Kaja Draksler on piano, inspired the formation of Hearth to develop soundscapes focusing on moods and textures, as heard in these six rich, explorative collective improvisations.
Formanek, Michael
Imperfect Measures
Two decades after his last solo album, Michael Formanek returned to the studio to record these nine solo bass improvisations, each a profound spontaneous composition realizing structures and melodic development that incorporate journeys from abstraction into logical narrative territory as we follow the muse of a one of modern jazz' greatest bassists.
Ellman, Liberty
Last Desert
(Pi Recordings)
Guitarist/composer Liberty Ellman's album takes its name from the four deserts--Atacama in South America, the Gobi in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and the "White Desert" of Antarctica--in seven sophisticated compositions performed with Steve Lehman on alto sax, Stephan Crump on bass, Damion Reid on drums, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, and Jose Davila on tuba.
Berne, Tim / Nasheet Waits
The Coanda Effect
(Relative Pitch)
A tour de force saxophone duo between two masterful New York players--alto saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Nasheet Waits--recording live at The Sultan Room in Brooklyn NY in 2019, in two impressive dialogs: "Tensile" for nearly 40 minutes of articulate expression and powerful rhythmic interaction; and the more introspective "5See" of impressive technique and intention.
Moller, Andre O. / Christoph Nicolaus / Rasha Ragab
Music For Stone Harps [2 CDs]
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Christoph Nicolaus began working with the stone harp around 2007, a block of granite with a slanted top that is deeply notched to create fins that resemble a loaf of bread, played by "bowing" the sides with wet hands causing each to vibrate in unique and beautiful tones; this album collects 13 compositions & improvisations performed between 2008 and 2018, in rich and uniquely evocative sound.
Pitsiokos, Chris
Speak In Tongues And Hope For The Gift Of Interpretation
(Relative Pitch)
Dedicating his pieces to Charlie Parker, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, and John Zorn, NY alto saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos is heard live at this solo concert in New Haven, CT in 2019, reflecting on the history of jazz through his intense playing style that deploys incredible technique balanced with abstraction and rapid lyricism.
Wooley, Nate
Battle Pieces 4
(Relative Pitch)
"Battle Pieces" uses trumpeter Nate Wooley's "social music" system, where each piece is constructed for a soloist who improvises with no score while the remaining player choose at will from over 75 compositions over which the soloist must find their path; here at Roulette in NYC with Nate Wooley, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ingrid Laubrock, & Matt Moran.
Lehman, Steve / Craig Taborn
The People I Love
(Pi Recordings)
Saxophonist Steve Lehman's trio with drummer Damion Reid and double bassist Matt Brewer is expanded with pianist Craig Taborn for an album of Lehman originals and compositions by Autechre, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Kirkland, and Jeff "Tain" Watts, plus three duo recordings between Lehman and Taborn; intricate cutting edge jazz made effortless and exuberant!
Graewe, George / Ernst Reijseger / Gerry Hemingway
Concertgebouw Brugge 2014
(Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))
Performing together since 1989, at first frequently and now as very special events, this concert at Concertgebouw in Brugge of pianist Georg Graewe, cellist Ernst Reijseger, and drummer and marimba player Gerry Hemingway, is a superb example of the both telepathic and confidently confrontational interplay of their chamber-oriented and superbly paced improvisation.
Shipp, Matthew / Mark Helias / Gordon Grdina
Skin and Bones
(Not Two)
Recording two days after their concert in British Columbia, BC at Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art's Skin And Bones Music Series, the trio of pianist Matthew Shipp, guitarist Gordon Grdina and bassist Mark Helias captured these collective improvisations at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver BC, titling their album after their well-received concert.
Fujii, Satoko / Ramon Lopez
Having played in trio settings before, pianist Satoko Fujii and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez seized the opportunity to record as a duo in the studio in NY, bringing just two Fujii compositions to guide them, they began freely improvising, creating this stunning album of elegant interaction, peaceful yet detailed, intuitively beautiful and sophisticated music.

The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

© 2002-, Squidco LLC