Abel Marcel Entrevista publicada na University of Art - Rotterdan. Last year he made an impression when he accompanied the Colombian sing...

Abel Marcel - Que Músico!

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Abel Marcel

Entrevista publicada na University of Art - Rotterdan.

Last year he made an impression when he accompanied the Colombian singer Yuri Buenaventura at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Now, Cuban pianist Abel Marcel is back for a master’s study at Rotterdam Conservatoire; he chose the study programme Latin in the Rotterdam World Music Academy.

‘I like making music that touches the heart. And that’s also how I like to experience art. Recently, at a dance performance, I was so touched by the first half that I didn’t stay for the second half. I wanted to hold on to that feeling. The next day I went to see the first half again.’

Meet Abel Marcel: the young Cuban jazz pianist that has just descended on Rotterdam for a two-year master’s study. As usual in Cuba, Abel Marcel (Havana, 1985) began studying classical music as a child. ‘But when I was about 13 or 14,’ tells the pianist, ‘I started a jazz band with a group of classmates from the conservatory. From the day I discovered that I could improvise, I became infected with the improvisation virus.’

When Abel Marcel (full name: Abel Marcel Calderón Arias) was fifteen, the annual Cuban jazz competition for young people, JoJazz, awarded him an important prize. ‘Chucho Valdés was in the jury, so I was blissfully happy.’ But fate intervened: while dragging a pipe onto a balcony, he received a shock of 13,000 volts. ‘My whole hand was ripped open, I could not move. The recovery was set to take a year and a half, if I would be capable of playing ever again.’
Already six months later he was sitting behind his piano. Abel Marcel: ‘Like everything in life, something good came out of it. During the recovery period I didn’t have to go to school, which meant I could go on tour to Canada with Mayra Caridad Valdés, Chucho’s sister, and a group of amazing musicians. That was my first international experience.’

A few months later he started playing with bassist Jorge Reyes (Irakere, Arturo Sandoval), which led him to record with Changuito and José Luis Cortes. He also recorded with singers like Vania, Mayito Rivera of Los Van Van, and he joined Yuri Buenaventura’s band. With the latter he ended up in the Netherlands, a country to which he had always been drawn. This year Abel Marcel was granted a scholarship from the Huygens Scholarship Programme for two years; since September he is studying in Rotterdam.

You may well wonder what a Cuban pianist graduate – the level of music education in Cuba is very high – has come to learn in Europe. Abel Marcel: ‘It is gradually changing now, but in Cuba only classical music used to be taught. Everyone plays jazz and Afro-Cuban music on the street, learning from experience, but without an academy where they teach you the structures. Here in the conservatoire everything is defined, all the patterns have been written out. That’s very valuable.’

The unlimited access to data attracted him as well. ‘I really love the intranet, the mediatheek and the library of the school. In my homeland, gathering information is still very difficult. Most music from outside Cuba reaches the island through musicians who return from tours abroad. Also, the informal and experimental character attracts me very much.’ Abel Marcel smiles. ‘I think eventually they’ll want to turn me away from the Full Moon parties in the WMDC!’

The pianist enjoys the multicultural character of the school. ‘Codarts is like a musical United Nations. It’s very special how all these different cultures are integrated here, and shared. I want to absorb everything: strange scales, Turkish music. That’s the beautiful thing about it: music is universal and doesn’t have boundaries, it belongs to humanity.’

Abel Marcel likes to play with devotion, from the heart: ‘Music should not give you a feeling of ‘waiting at the bus stop’; I already do that every day. I want to make and experience music like a Hollywood movie, something that makes you dream. Art is like a friend you can always call on, who accompanies you in every step of the way. Who adjusts himself to you, with empathy, and makes you feel good. For it’s the way you express yourself.’


aryam marcos said...

this guy is amazing pianist !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i know him very well , so i can telll everybody , dont miss the opportunity to meet and listen him !!!!!!!