Marialy Pacheco is a thirty year old Cuban pianist, born in Havana in 1983, who mostly works in Europe. Right now I am currently listening to one of her earliest CDs, "Mi Azul" (Weltwunder 2006) a solo outing that encompasses a lot of what one hears in all five of her recordings -- passion, touch and dynamic control, and a blending of her Cuban roots, jazz and classical music. Her songs are beautiful stories which unwind with lovely and mostly gentle melodies and harmonies. One this CD she wrote three of the songs and otherwise reached into the folk songs of Cuba as well as to the works of several Cuban writers. The music is quietly Cuban which can be felt in the left hand rhythms on many songs, but overall the songs are blended from her influences and are all wonderfully rhapsodic and clearly from the heart.
Pacheco comes from a musical family and began studying piano at the Conservatory in Havana at a young age, followed by training at the Escuela Nacional de Artes and then the Instituto Superior de Artes. She won the Cuban competition Jo-Jazz in 2002, with Chucho Valdes presiding over the jury. She moved to Germany in the mid 2000s and then Brisbane and has built her reputation with solo and trio recordings. In 2012 she won her biggest prize, the Montreux Solo Piano Competition, the first woman to win this prize. The jury was headed by Leszek Mozdzer, a major piano recording artist on the ACT label.
Her other recordings include her first, the piano trio "Bendiciones" (Weltwunder 2005), a solo recording "Songs That I Love" (2011), a trio for "Spaces Within" (Pinnacle Music 2012), and a solo outing "Tokyo Call" (T-Toc Records 2013); and she is scheduled to release a new trio recording in 2014. I recommend each -- her play is exquisite, her ideas creative, and each song is infused with feelings from deep within her heart. While some are mostly her own compositions or those of her native Cuba, several have standards that are equally compelling -- "Caravan", Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" on "Tokyo Call", or "The Way You Look Tonight" and "The Song is You" on "Songs That I Love". A wonderful pianist I hope you will check out.