Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Pianist ANDRES LOPEZ
Not content with the “Unbeleivable”
That the music trail is a torturous one, is well known. The challenge is compounded further by the individual’s refusal to be anything but ordinary – to personify continuous upgrades in ability and accomplishment whilst retaining the in-bred wonder and passion for the artform.
Such has been the quest for Andres Lopez. The son of the Saint Catherine hills, he, like several of his generation, gravitated to music from an early age. He spent years in the orbit of several of Jamaica’s finest musicians, gathering knowledge, making his own observations. This exposure has had a tremendous influence on his development both as a performer and a producer. While at his alma mater, Claremont High, under the leadership of Nigel Powell, he became the school’s first band leader
Further refinement of his musical vision came via the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where he spent three years to further his studies in piano/keyboard skills. While there he was a member of the jazz quartet ‘Wide Grin”. The quartet provided another avenue for him to further hone his skills by way of the many booked gigs they performed at.
Since leaving the institution, the pianist has steadily made a name for himself on the cocktail circuit, working in tandem with his schoolmates, other contemporaries as well as those who have preceded him. Lopez started doing piano gigs playing at weddings, cocktails, parties and cooperate functions. He also became an in-demand “side player” on projects and performances by the likes of gospel stars Chevelle Franklin and Sandra Brooks, and roots reggae stalwarts Fantan Mojah, Etana, Lutan Fyah, Anthony B and Alborosie. Such gigs have expectedly resulted in the air miles piling up as he accompanied those acts on tours of the US, Canada, South America and Europe.
But Lopez has aspiration towards even brighter horizons and greater accomplishments. The album “Unbelievable” his first full-length as a leder, manifested from his self-created I-Pez Productions in 2013, reaching the lofty number one spot on Internet channel Reverbnation instrumental charts. The 10-track set features several of his musical fellow-travellers: Nicholas Laraque on saxophones, Craig Henry on trumpet, Dugal Clarke on bass and Michael Mighty on drums. Standout tracks include Charlie Parker’s be-bop standby, “Little Suede Shoes” an organ-driven cover of the Peter Tosh classic “Equal Rights” “Rubba Dub Ska” and the title track. World Vision.
Lopez is continuing to work in variety of settings – solo, small group and fusion bands. He is also looking to find new forms of expression as well, exploring a number of projects – among them is the “Rock Weh” riddim, which has attracted the attention of France-based production-promotion outfit Talowa Productions. The track features a number of artists, including multi-cultural French reggae group, The Banyans.
“I understand and appreciate the demands of the music business as it stands today, but I believe I can be true to myself and still make a mark both commercially and artistically,” he states, adding “its going to take some flexibility and a different level of effort, but I’m up for it.”
And, judging from the sounds of the disc, greater accomplishments are well in sight.