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‘That gringo has swing!’: Pianist Arthur Hanlon kicks off his latest tour in South Florida

At a time when few artists take a chance on instrumental music, American pianist with a Latin heart, Arthur Hanlon, forges ahead with his singular musical proposition: to prove that the piano is an “all-terrain” instrument, able to succeed in all genres. As a result, he has shaken things up with tropical rhythms such as “La Gorda Linda” (with Tito Nieves), which reached the top of the Billboard charts in 2005 and, more recently, on “Si tu te vas,” with Fonseca, which already has almost 15 million views on YouTube.

“I think the important thing is to show that music is music,” says the artist of Irish descent who has been based in Miami for twenty years. “That’s why my goal has always been to do different things. A while ago I made a record of hits by Mecano (“Mecanomanía”), one with the best of world music (“Viajero”) and so I am always looking for my next album to be different.“

It was precisely that, looking for the “wow factor” he would bring to his new album, which led him to meet a few months ago with the executives at his record label, Sony Music Latin. “We were talking about how to find a cool sound when Boom! Yotuel Romero (lead vocalist of Cuban group Orishas) entered the office, to say hello. Soon an organic conversation arose and we agreed to continue it in the recording studio.”

Arthur enthusiastically recalls their first day in the studio, which went until two in the morning: “I started playing my Cuban-style blues, Yotuel shouted, ‘That gringo has swing!’ And by act of God, in an hour and a half we had the groove and melody of the song. ”

The song, entitled “Cómo suena el piano,” combines tumbao, blues and urban rhythms. It led Hanlon and Orishas to film the video in Cuba: “I fell in love with Havana. I have traveled the world a lot, but this city touched my heart in a special way. There is no internet, few people have cellphones, so it was amazing to see people listening to the sound of the sea at dawn.”

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Arthur Hanlon filming his video “Cómo suena el piano” with Orishas in Cuba. Sony Music

In addition to the sounds of Havana, the musician, who has collaborated with Prince Royce, Gloria Estefan and Arturo Sandoval among other stars, says he was taken by the nature of the island: “I had a private VIP tour with Yotuel. He has a car there, so one day at six in the morning he stopped in front of my hotel, blew his horn at full blast and pulled me out of bed. I can’t complain because he took me out of the tourist areas.”

“We went to supermarkets, to restaurants visited by local people, not tourists. I was on a beach where the only gringo was me. And I saw that everywhere people create their own music. If there are no instruments, they invent them. If there is no radio, they just sing. Cuba is a country that has rhythm and music in every corner. ”

With this new infusion of music, Arthur Hanlon returns to Miami to kick off his “Gringo in Havana” tour. The first stop is Friday, Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

“It is not a piano concert as people imagine it. This is a show where we get out the box. I perform with my musicians, with many visual effects and several surprise guests. Together we present a trip through Latin America that they will enjoy not only with their ears, but also with their eyes and soul.”

If you go:

What: Arthur Hanlon’s “A gringo in Havana”

When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, October 11

Where: Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Cost: $25-$45

Info: 954-462-0222 or