Saxophonist Luis Deniz makes his debut as a leader with El Tinajón

Grammy-nominated and Juno-winning saxophonist Luis Deniz has announced the details of his debut album as a leader.

El Tinajón brings together the rich cultural influences of Deniz’s upbringing in Camaguey, Cuba, and his later life in Toronto. The album’s nine original compositions are imbued with Afro-Cuban folkloric influence and accentuated by the sax player’s high-powered musicality.

Described as “wistful, emotionally complex and fashioned with powerful improvisation,” the recording pays tribute to Deniz’s beginnings and reflects on the sensation of longing and its relevance to his international identity.

El Tinajón is the name of a clay pot that was brought to Cuba by the Spanish, in the early 1500s,” Deniz explains. “It was originally used to collect rainwater in the Spanish-style open patios. Not too long after that, the Tinajón became the trademark of the province of Camaguey, an insignia of sorts.”

On this debut recording, Deniz’s ensemble features bassist Roberto Occhipinti, pianist Rafael Zaldivar, drummer Amhed Mitchel, and percussionist Jorge Luis Torres.

Since his arrival in Toronto in 2004, Deniz has had an impressive career as an accompanist and soloist for the likes of Barry Harris, Howard Johnson, Randy Brecker, Ray Vega, Donald Harrison, Ingrid Jensen, Jane Bunnett and more.

Deniz has won a Juno Award and earned a Grammy nomination for his work with Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band. He was also a winner of the Grand Prix de Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2006 (with the David Virelles Quintet) and the Galaxie Rising Star at the Halifax Jazz Festival in 2010 (with Rich Brown and Rinsethealgorithm).

Deniz is also a proud educator who’s currently a faculty member at Humber College.

Here’s the track listing for El Tinajón:

  1. Reflexiones
  2. La Ceiba de Mayuya
  3. Rumba para Camaguey/Equality
  4. Entre Dos Ideas
  5. Bolero
  6. Gesture
  7. Dutch Flower
  8. Strong Together
  9. Conga para Florida

El Tinajón will be released May 27 via Modica Music.

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