Aruán Ortiz is a Cuban pianist and violist, and defines himself as a curious folklorist that loves music, and
portrays his music as a bunch of spontaneous compositions that gravitate within compositions with the
mission of breaking stylistic musical boundaries.
He has received numerous accolades such as the Doris Duke Impact Award (2014); the Composers Now
Creative Residency Award at Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (2014); the Jerome
Foundation Travel & Study Grant (2013), Latin Jazz Corner’s Arranger of the Year (2011) for his
contribution on the album, “El Cumbanchero” by flutist Mark Weinstein (Jazzheads, 2011); Fundación
Autor, SGAE, and Generalitat de Catalunya Grant study grants (2002); Semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano
Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001); and Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic,
Before arriving in New York in 2008, Aruán played with the Esperanza Spalding on her debut album,
"Junjo" (Ayva Música, 2006). All About Jazz said, “The trio has…splendid flashes of precision from
pianist Aruán Ortiz who is excellent throughout.” In 2009, Aruán's album "Alameda" (Fresh Sound New
Talent), where he combines modern jazz, contemporary classical music, and Afro-Cuban rhythms,
received four stars from the UK based magazine Jazzwise, and was named one of the top ten jazz CDs
of the year in 2010. In response to the quartet's second album, "Orbiting" (Fresh Sound New Talent,
2012), the prestigious Downbeat Magazine called him "...one of the most versatile and exciting pianists of
In 2011, Aruán was commissioned by the José Mateo Ballet Theater on the occasion of their 25th
anniversary to compose and record the score for a new choreographic work, "Pagano or No." Soon
afterward, the score was recorded on the album Santiarican Blues Suite (Sunnyside 2012), and
premiered by the Camerata Urbana Ensemble at the Next Wave Festival at BAM (Brooklyn, NY, 2012).
The album received 4.5 stars from Downbeat Magazine, and Latin Jazz Network said, “This record by a
very special artist will go down as one of the most significant works of music." In 2013, Aruán composed
and conducted an original piece for the ballet, "Collage." It premiered at the Casa del Jazz Festival, in
Rome, Italy, was interpreted by the YOUME Orchestra, and performed by Milena Zullo Ballet.
In recent years, Aruán has produced and curated several series of concerts featuring some of the most
legendary, forward-thinking, and creative improvisers on the New York scene such as Andrew Cyrille,
Oliver Lake, Henry Grimes, Sam Newsome, Rufus Reid, Francisco Mora-Catlett, Ralph Alessi, Don
Byron, in explorations of the translation of non-musical patterns, symbols, and structures into concepts
unusual to jazz improvisation and notated music. For example, the Music & Architecture Concert Series
(2013) the press stated, "...The music evoked images of mathematical equations, great architectural
works and brought to mind the New York loft scene of the 1970s, where free jazz reigned supreme"
In 2014, Aruán composed the score for the feature film "Sin Alas" (2014), and his music can be heard on
the Spanish short film "The Beating."
Although he tours in Europe and the US with his own trio and quartet, Aruán has also played, toured, or
recorded with Wadada Leo Smith, Greg Osby, Esperanza Spalding, Nasheet Waits, Terri Lyne
Carrington, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Steve Turre, Cameron Brown, Wallace Roney, John Bestch, to
name a few.
"Vladimir Horowitz's momentum mixed with Cecil Taylor's palette, underlining Taylor's debt to Cuba more than Ortiz's debt to Taylor." - MetalJazz Magazine
...the erudite Ortiz has smashed every preconception of Latin pianists and his penchant for innovative expression succeeds in surpassing the output of his musical contemporaries. -All about jazz-
"...an open invitation to accompany him on a musical journey that spans his Cuban roots, contemporary classical music, improvisation and what he calls, 'an architecture of sounds.'" - Latin Jazz Network