This double album is a five movement suite inspired by the story of Joseph Cinque, who in 1839 led a successful revolt aboard the slave ship La Amistad, days after being sold and transported to a sugar plantation in Cuba. Elio’s most ambitious project today, showcases the cultural diversity of the five Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, and Jamaica; while simultaneously high- lighting the Congolese musical heritage woven into the fabric of each of these diverse nations, and yet unified via the forced migration of Africans to the Americas.
Villafranca Examines History
March 13, 2018
By John Ephland
For five days in early May, Cuban pianist/composer Elio Villafranca set up shop at Systems Two, the state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn, to record his sixth album, Cinqué (ArtistShare). The program, which includes five movements, contains music he had performed onstage at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2015.
The disc’s title refers to Joseph Cinqué (1814–’79), the West African man who led a revolt aboard the ship La Amistad, which was transporting Cinqué and others who had been captured as part of the slave trade.
“Cinqué showcases,” Villafranca said, “the cultural diversity of the five Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, while simultaneously highlighting the African traditions woven into the fabric of each of these nations.”