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Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, pianist Dayramir (DY-ruh-meer) Gonzalez has come into his own as a New York City-based artist/composer and bold musical force with his bountiful U.S. debut “THE GRAND CONCOURSE” (March 2nd, 2018, Machat Records). This album dazzles as an expressive showcase of the energetic Dayramir’s immense talent and sweeping musical vision. An internationally praised pianist and composer, he’s been hailed for his ‘monster technique’ and prolific creative range which melds rock, pop, jazz, and Afro-Cuban stylings.
Dayramir’s knack for weaving a mosaic of both traditional and cutting-edge inspirations is not solely tethered to his daring blend of genres. The vibrant THE GRAND CONCOURSE embraces the pulse and mystique of New York City, as well as the allure of early 20th Century Cuban sonic leanings and the cultural roots and myths of sensually fused Yoruba religious elements (Cuban-centric Yoruba beliefs identify both natural and spiritual characteristics as part of its foundation) elevated by Dayramir’s 21st Century precision.
Dayramir’s journey may have begun in Cuba, but there’s been no shortage of mileposts lighting his diverse path. Born in the humble Havana neighborhood of Cerro, during what is referred to in Cuba as “the special period” known as one of the toughest economic times in the country’s history, Dayramir’s life centered on music.
His father was Afro-Cuban jazz trumpeter, Fabian Gonzalez, a driving force and inspiration as Dayramir discovered the piano at the age of 8. He would eventually be accepted into Cuba’s famed National High School for the Arts (ENA). Nurtured by noted singer and percussionist Oscar Valdes (from the legendary band Irakere), the young prodigy was selected at 16 to become an original member and pianist for Diakara, another seminal band founded by Valdes.
Later, while in his third year of high school, Dayramir would be recruited by Cuban legend Giraldo Piloto to join Klimax, helping to shape the sound of that renowned group. Accruing such an impressive list of credits, he began to excel in festival competitions as well. In 2005 he won first place in Havana’s JoJazz festival in the composition category, winning a record deal with Cuba’s national label Colibri. He recorded his first album, released in Cuba in 2007, and titled “Habana enTRANCE,” displaying his skills as artist, bandleader, and composer. The album would go on to win three Cubadisco Awards, considered the Grammys of Cuba.
Dayramir was accepted into Havana’s prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) where he strengthened his burgeoning composition skills under the tutelage of master Juan Pinera. Next, he was awarded a musical scholarship to Boston’s revered Berklee College of Music in the U.S., becoming the first Cuban national to receive Berklee’s coveted full Presidential Scholarship. Dayramir graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2013, showered with an array of accolades while enrolled: He was signed to Berklee’s Jazz Revelation Records and included on their acclaimed compilation album, as well as being selected as one of their top 5 pianists in their annual Piano Gala. In 2012, he was called “a rising star in the Latin jazz world,” by Carnegie Hall and personally selected by Chucho Valdes to represent the young generation of Cuban Jazz at Carnegie Hall’s “Voices of Latin America” series, chronicled in the Wall Street Journal, which featured music icons Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, Egberto Gismonti and Valdes himself. He then received the Wayne Shorter Award for Most Outstanding Composer of the Year upon graduation.
Dayramir moved to New York City soon after, where he strived to not only further his musical career but to become part of the “incredible flow and vibe” of a city he always dreamed about as a boy.
“Even with all my accomplishments it was an adjustment,” he admits. “I had to shake the tree that bears the fruit of success. No one hands you anything in New York. It’s either roll up your sleeves and show me or get the hell in line,” he says. The determined artist endured the scuffs and staggered start-ups that every aspiring musician encounters in the world’s musical epicenter, but he was also determined to “give back” for what he’s gained in the process.
Dayramir is the co-founder of The Art School of Contemporary Performance and Creativity, based in the Bronx, providing musical education to city elementary and high school kids with higher musical aspirations, themselves. The enterprising artist modeled the curriculum after the extensive and enlightening musical programs he benefited from in his native Cuba. “We focus on piano, composition and music theory – emphasizing discipline and the acquisition of an earned knowledge base. I find it very rewarding if we can launch even a handful of kids on the road to finding their own musical destiny.”
Fully aware that “THE GRAND CONCOURSE” is his first introduction to most U.S. fans, the animated musical powerhouse welcomes the challenge of inviting new listeners into his world. “I told my wife when I decided to make this album that I have so much inside to offer as a pianist and composer, I want everyone to hear it,” he says. “It was a real group effort, paring 23 songs down to the ones I decided to record, and then gathering friends and fellow musicians and a choir and the orchestral talent and all the other elements to become part of my vision. I’m humbled and thankful that I’ve reached a place in my life where it all can be