Cuban pianist. composer, and jazz improviser Aldo López-Gavilán will be performing in two concerts at Festival Napa Valley, which begins tonight and runs through July 23rd. He’s reprising a collaboration with Joshua Bell tomorrow night in a program called Seasons of Cuba, and then on Tuesday night he’ll be hosting a sold-out show called Hot Havana Nights. His wife, conductor Daiana Garcia is Music Director for the Havana Chamber Orchestra, which will also be performing during the festival.

There’s more information about all the performances at the Festival Napa Valley website.

As the son of classical musician parents, and growing up in a country where music is everywhere, there was really never a time López-Gavilán wasn’t going to be a musician. “It was unavoidable, for me in my case. Not only because of my surroundings, but also because of my feelings and my approach to the instruments. In fact, my family wanted me to play the cello, because there already was a piano in the family. And I started to play a little bit of cello, but no. The piano was stronger, you know. The attraction was even more strong.” He was conservatory trained from the age of seven, but intuitively learned jazz and salsa playing as he was gaining classical technique. “It wasn’t hard at all to combine these different ways of approaching music. In my case, I think music is only one thing, one way to express your feelings and your thoughts.” His collaboration with Joshua Bell has travelled from Cuba, to Lincoln Center in New York City, and now to wine country. “We met in Havana, after this Committee on the Arts and the Humanities that President Obama brought to Cuba two years ago. We had the opportunity to do a very short performance together in Havana. We connected very well, and he decided to organize this in a bigger way in the US.”  Later this month, he’ll be debuting his first piano concerto at the Classical Tahoe Festival. Here he is joined by his brother’s Harlem Quartet playing “Pan con Timba”: