Swiss Jazz Band, Nolosé, on “Playing Salsa at its Cradle”


Laurent Cuénoud, director of the Swiss band Nolosé, performed at the 2013 Jazz Plaza Festival and ended up recording a CD in Havana. He states that “It was a great challenge for us to come to play in Cuba where the best musicians in the world who mix salsa and jazz live.” In Cuba for the first time since the band’s inception, nine years ago, Nolosé presented its work on several national stages during the 2013 Jazz Plaza Festival. It included rhythms such as cha cha cha, guaracha, songo, jazz improvisations mixed with Afro-Colombian and Afro-Cuban sounds, elements of soul, hip hop, and rhythm and blues. Here is more information on the new album and excerpts from their interview with Maya Quiroga (Cuba Now).

Following their participation in the Cuban jazz event, where they shared presentations with the local group Gala Mayor, they recorded their third CD at broadcaster Radio Progreso’s studios. This recording is entitled ¿Qué viene hablando La Habana? It’s the name of a composition by Alejandro Mayor, director of Gala Mayor, who was also the musical producer of the CD.

As an innovation, this disc had the participation of pianist, composer and musical producer Héctor Martignon, a Colombian established in New York, nominated twice for the Grammy awards. In the recording, Martignon was able to show off his mastery through some improvisations. The disc will also be part of an audiovisual on Nolosé’s visit to Havana.

What will happen with this new CD recorded in Havana? We’ll return to Switzerland with the disc where we’ll finish it. Afterwards we want to organize a tour of Europe to show the results of the work in Cuba. It’s very important for festival programmers. This work we did in Cuba may lead us to stages in Europe. We also want to return. Later we’ll visit Puerto Rico, where part of my heart is, then Colombia. It’s a road that’s always moving forward.

Why the interest in fusing salsa and jazz? All the musicians in the group have had the opportunity to travel in Latin America. When we make these trips we’ve been able to feel the energy flowing from the rhythms of Latin America. We particularly like Cuban rhythms very much. At the start we only played jazz, but we’ve had the idea of mixing the richness of jazz with the richness of Cuban sonorities, in an attempt to create our own style. [. . .]

Did you have references for the jazz being made in Cuba? Yes, because in Switzerland there’s a very large Cuban community. There are also people from other countries: Puerto Ricans, Colombians, some Latinos who emigrated from New York, because salsa is not only made in Cuba. Salsa was very successful in the nineties. People like it very much because it’s a kind of music we can dance to and enjoy.

Do you think the insertion of musicians of various nationalities into the group contributed to strengthening Nolosé’s style? We’ve had foreign musicians since we formed the group. We have one Colombian and two Cuban singers. It’s a very diverse group. That’s why people from the German and French parts of Switzerland are also members of the band. Remember that French, German and Italian are spoken in our country. Nevertheless, the singers always perform the numbers in Spanish.

For full interview, see

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