MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, PRODUCER, ARRANGER, GUITAR PLAYER AND SINGER
Pavel Urkiza was born in Kiev, Ukraine on June 2, 1963 while his parents were on an educational mission in the Soviet Union representing the Cuban Government. At three months, he was taken to Havana, Cuba where he was raised by his family through the best and worst years of the Cuban Revolution. The grandson of one of Cuba’s foremost cinema and stage actresses, Raquel Revuelta, Pavel was directly connected to Cuba’s artistic world from an early age.
Music in general, and the Spanish guitar specifically, were in his DNA, an inheritance from his grandfather _______ who was also a well-known composer and singer in his time. Pavel began playing the guitar and composing in his late teens, creating and disbanding a number of groups until he struck the perfect chord creating the duo “Gema y Pavel” with the Cuban singer, Gema Corredera. Constrained by the limitations of the Cuban music industry, they left the island to pursue their musical career in Europe.
After twenty years in Spain, touring throughout Europe and into the United States and Latin America, the duo parted ways and Pavel began his solo career. He embarked on a music documentary project and continued to play in public and record. In 2015 he moved to the United States.
His respect and understanding of Cuba's rich musicological ancestry, in combination with 22 years of musical experience in the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Island have resulted in his truly unique style that offers a vast spectrum of rhythms, harmonies, melodies and lyrics. A mix of Afro, Cuban, and Ibero-American flavors are evident in his guitar playing and vocals. The result is a Caribbean-Mediterranean way of playing with a singular Cuban swing.
Among the rhythms he has inherited and others he has created are: Filin progresivo, Guaguancó-Flamenco, Spanish Tango with "Son", Bolero Filin, Bomba-Makuta, Timba-Funk, Chacha-Blues, Trova-Jazz, and an ever growing array of others.
Urkiza has published more than 40 compositions on over a dozen of his own CD projects. He has also recorded, written, and produced for internationally renowned artists including: Ana Torroja, Miguel Bosé, Albita Rodríguez, Ketama, Cristina del Valle, Echegaray, Claudia Gómez, Yusa, for whom he produced her debut album, and the Nicaraguan musician, Luis Enrique, with whom he co-produced the album “Dentro y Fuera”. He also participated as an interpreter, guitar player, and arranger for the artist John Santos’ "Caribbean Philosophy" CD.
Pavel produced more than 20 discographic works, including all of his duo, Gema y Pavel and his solo albums, as well as many other acclaimed artists like Omara Portuondo, Virtudes Moreno, Giselle Solís, Habana Abierta, Yuniel Jiménez, as well as the poet F. Javier Rahim. and has collaborated with the New York based Argentine singers Sofía Rei y Sofía Tosello.
The formation of the duo Gema y Pavel in 1990 and their brave venture off their native island launched a new chapter in the history of Cuban music. With the duo, he traveled the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe playing the regions’ top venues and festivals. He share stage with artists like Alejandro Sanz, Tito Puente, Pablo Milanés, Lenine, Angelique Kidjo, Martirio, Compay Segundo, La vieja Trova Santiaguera, Marta Valdés, Ketama, Carlos Cano, Pedro Guerra, Javier Ruibal, Meme Solís, and many others. Their European tours included the Frankfurt Ópera, the Arezzo Wave Festival in
Italy, the Nice Jazz Festival in France – where the jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and the Brazilian Joao Bosco participated as well, among other greats. They also played at the International Skopje Jazz Festival in Macedonia – sharing the stage with Latin jazz legend, the late Tito Puente. They played at Le Printemps de Bourges in France, WDR Colonia International Musical Festival, La Cote D'Opale in France, "Cuba is Music" in Paris, and the Latin Festival Saint Nazaire in France. In Spain, in the Córdoba Guitar Festival, the Tropical Festival of Bilbao, South Pirineo Festival, Cadiz International Theater Festival, Milenaria 95 in Logroño, and "Cuba is Music" in Madrid.
Pavel’s musical talents reach beyond recording and performing. He has composed music for theatre and cinema, including the soundtrack of the Hispano-Cuban production “Las Noches de Constantinopla” (The Nights of Constantinople), directed by Orlando Rojas.
"De Akokan" is another ongoing project with the Puerto Rican musician Ricardo Pons, with whom Pavel recorded the CD "Buscando La Esquina" and performed at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and the Jazz Gallery in NYC. This work is a musical fusion of the genres of jazz, bolero, Cuban "Filin", Urkiza’s signature “Progressive Filin", the Puerto Rican Bomba, rumba, and other Caribbean rhythms in an instrumental dialogue between the guitar and wood winds.
Another ongoing project of this multifaceted artist is called "Congrí Ensemble". It is an interpretation of Cuban music from 1851 to 1941 in a classical chamber format using ancient instruments such as the romantic guitar, the “Mutto” cornet, baroque flutes, upright bass, and percussion. This project premiered in the grand hall of the Santa María de Albarracín cathedral as part of the seminar series taught by the prestigious music professor and conductor, José Luis Temes.
His most recent monumental production is the music documentary: “La Ruta de las Almas” (The Road of the Souls), a film illustrating the ancestral connections among music from the Ibero-American region. Through his journey to uncover these musical roots, he records and interviews 85 musicians, simultaneously creating a CD of original compositions inspired by the history and deep musical ties of the soul. He is currently preparing to tour nationally with a band composed of musicians from throughout the region. The “Road of the Souls” band will begin to perform live in the United State in 2016 in conjunction with showings at film festivals of the documentary.