I’ve always loved listening to piano. A small bar. Some sofas. Sexy, dim lighting and a piano player on a rainy night sums up my ultimate New York City experience.
Dayramir Gonzalez afro cuban jazz pianist
Dayramir González. Photo credit: Dayramir González

Dayramir González is a Cuban-born pianist bringing his talent to audiences throughout the United States and abroad. Born with what feels like a natural extension from his fingers to the instrument, Dayramir brings a perfect blend of Afro-Cuban and European influences to his music, which he seems to feel as he’s playing. It’s equally mesmerizing to watch him as it is to listen to him.  

Before I get too far along here, I want to tell you that I’m not a music person. I like to have some music on for ambiance in the background while I’m working or relaxing, but I don’t write this review from a perspective of any professional knowledge (as is displayed in this video here). I’m just a guy, like you, who appreciates good talent (and Afro-Cuban music). With Dayramir though, I found myself in some form of trance — captivated by what he’s doing with the piano keys and the beautiful music he plays. 

Dayramir’s most recent album, “The Grand Concourse,” was named one of the Top 40 albums of 2018 and received 4.5 stars from Downbeat.

Meet Afro-Cuban pianist Dayramir Gonzalez.

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I first met Dayramir at a Cimafunk concert in New York City’s Lower East Side. A super affable guy, he’s got a sort of magnetic, welcoming energy about him. And, like many other musicians I’ve met, he seems to flow to a musical cadence in his head. This makes sense because Dayrmir’s been playing piano since the age of seven. Growing up in a family of musicians, he started by giving weekend performances to his father and his family’s friends in their Havana home. 

Dayramir Gonzalez afro cuban jazz pianist

As a youth of the 80’s in Cuba, he recalls the days of abundance before the Período Especial. Then, the scarcity of the 90’s brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union changed that, and life was tough. One thing that didn’t change for Dayramir was Cuba’s continued support of its education system, enabling him to study with the best in the country, honing his craft. By the age of 16, he had begun his professional career with former Irakere member, Oscar Valdés, and his Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Diákara. 

“Dayramir Gonzalez belongs to those musicians who capture you in the room and make you feel just one thing: the immense desires of remaining near his magic piano.”

Jazz Casual

Dayramir went on to win Havana’s JoJazz festival in 2004 and 2005 and three Cubadisco awards for his album “Dayramir & Habana enTRANCé.” His education brought him to Berklee College of Music as the first Cuban national Presidential Scholarship recipient. He’s performed with legends Chucho and Bebo Valdes and has headlined at Carnegie Hall. Dayramir’s most recent album, “The Grand Concourse,” was named one of the Top 40 albums of 2018 and received 4.5 stars from Downbeat.

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Dayramir Gonzalez
Photo credit: Dayramir González

Seriously, it’s nuts how good he is. The Wall Street Journal said of Dayramir, “Mr. González is a stunningly gifted composer and arranger.” JazzTimes says about him, “A confident statement of Cuba-ness… it belongs in your ears.” And, a personal favorite from Jazz Casual, “Dayramir Gonzalez belongs to those musicians who capture you in the room and make you feel just one thing: the immense desires of remaining near his magic piano.”

I agree. He played a little one-on-one concert for you in the video above. Give it a listen. 

Dayramir Gonzalez afro cuban jazz pianist
Photo credit: Dayramir González
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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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