Miguel de Armas (Canada)

When the exhilarating female-led ensemble OKAN heated up TD Sunfest stages last summer, it was complemented by versatile jazz pianist and composer Miguel de Armas. Born in Havana, Cuba, Miguel weaves strands of Cuban and American jazz influences in a compellingly eclectic way. With José Luis Cortés and other prestigious artists from his homeland, he founded Cuba’s acclaimed NG La Banda Orchestra which, for over a decade, toured the globe and appeared at world-class jazz festivals such as North Sea, Montreaux, Nice, Nantes, Normandia, Couleur Café, Barranquijazz and Río de Janeiro Film Festival.

Now Miguel has brought his talents to the Canadian city of Ottawa, which he considers his adopted home. On stage, ideas often seem to be flying out from under the pianist’s fingers more quickly than he can fully process them, but with the help of an outstanding rhythm team (his Afro-Cuban Jazz Quartet consisting of bassist Marc Decho, drummer Michel Medrano and conga player Arien Villegas), he manages to keep his feet on the ground and generate plenty of inspiring moments during the Quartet’s performances.

In 2018, Miguel de Armas told Bruce Deachman of the Ottawa Citizen: “Since I was a child, I knew music was my fate. (It’s) a critical part of who I am. I think music. I breathe music. I eat music. When I eat music, I feel fine. It is my main vehicle to express myself, my sorrows, my joys, and it’s my way to connect with others.”