Erick de Armas, a Cuban born in Havana in the 1960s, made his first appearance in the small world of Cuban television when he was only seven years old, and presented a popular children's programme (Escenario Escolar) until he was fourteen. As an actor and impersonator, he appeared in several other N shows, including the series De Copemico a Gagarin, and also on stage ai the J. Marti Theatre and the Havana Musical Theatre, alongside some of the great names in the world of Cuban entertainment, such as Zenia Marabal, Candita Guintana and Carlos Paulin.
He also made a series of recordings as soloist for the children's choir of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Orchestra, under Alfredo Perez. All these diverse activities did not stop him from pursuing conscientious studies in medicine from 1982 to 1993. He qualified as a general practitioner and later specialized in holistic medicine.
A year later he went into exile.
Erick settled in Belgium, with the intention of practicing medicine, but had to give up the idea as his qualifications were not recognized in Belgium. To earn a living, he returned to the performing arts and won two Cuban dance competitions, which enabled him to find work as a dance teacher.
He began to play music again in 1997, founding the group Guarachando with the guitarist Humberto Gonzalez Matamoros.
With the group Guarachando, Erick appeared regularly at jazz clubs and festivals, and won the second prize at the Antwerp Latino Awards in 2001.
It was inevitable that through that great, all-embracing movement, in which world music and improvised music today exist side by side, that the paths of Erick de Armas and the jazz singer David Linx should cross. David found himself attracted to the vocal qualities of the Cuban... So, as time went on and as Erick's circle of acquaintances increased, the necessity of earning a living gave way to mare artistic aims...
David Linx (considered to be one of today's best jazz singers) has taken charge of the artistic direction, arrangements and production of this, Erick's first solo album, giving a strong jazzy influence to the original songs on the record.
Erick de Armas has gone beyond mere variations on Cuban musical clichés, beyond all those Guantanameras stacked up in record shops like so many hot meals for cold countries, to find a sense of freedom that comes close to improvisation.
Among his many influences, the nueva trova, personified hy Pablo Milanès and Silvio Rodriguez among others, is perhaps the most striking. The cultural background of son, danzon and rumba is always present, and musi-cians like Benny more and Carios Embale have an important place in Erick's personal Pantheon...
In the course of his latest album, he explores a wide range of stylistic combinations: from trova-filin influences to the spoken song with an accompaniment of jazzy modal improvisation; from bolero-jazz with a blues intro and cool-jazz interlude, to samba-jazz with a Caribbean flavour. There are also duos, with slower, sauntering arrangements, moving from piano-voice, piano-bass, the jazz ballad, Latin-jazz scat, bossa-son and bolero-pop, so discovering a whole new world of potentialities...
Erick de Armas is backed by a jazz quartet that is a long way away from any direct tropical influence. and which features some of David Linx's musical cohorts. The French drummer Stéphane Huchard; Jules Bikolo (from Julien Loureau's Groove Gang) on the double-bass; Joseph Dumoulin on piano. and David Linx's long-standing collaborator, the pianist Diederik Wissels. There is also the invaluable contribution of Kathy Adam on the cello and Olivier Louvel on the guitar...Accompanied by this superb team, Erick sets off on the open sea, with no fear of the sharks that might attack his musical 'balsa'...
Tragic, picaresque or evocative, love stories are everywhere in Cuban popular music. This is a result of the climate, and of the Cubans' sophisticated relation with the body, on the one hand, and with sensuality, on the other- that extreme sensuality of the island's people and culture, which has the same sort of ebb and flow movement as the Caribbean Sea on the Malecon, opening up Havana to the vastness of the ocean...The metaphor of lave in Erick's songs is a way of evoking the conflicting relations of the exile with his native land - the generous mother and frustrating mistress. Cuba, so beautiful and so unhappy...
Erick : "I also dedicate this record to Cuba, to my island. I've tried to show its weaknesses and faults through these love stories. I don 't want to give the impression of an unhappy exile, steeped in nostalgia -more of someone enlightened by relief and recognition. And I also sing to fight the abuse of power and to praise the courage of the mothers who go to the beach to say goodbye to their children when they set out on the open sea, and whose future depends on a simple raft ..."
Arto Adorno July 2003 Translation: Malcolm Eden
His album "Alivio y Recuerdo" (Healing & memory) was released end 2002
by Iris Music and is distributed by Harmonia Mundi (3001 871 HM 87). The musicians :Jozef Dumoulin, piano; Jules Bikilo, double bass; Stéphane Huchard, drums;
Guests : Olivier Louvel, guitar; Chris Joris, percussion; Bert Joris, trumpet;
Pierre Bernard, flute; Diederik Wissels, piano; Kathy Adam, cello; Alice Lacksman, Barbara Fernandez, Sarah & Carmen Araujo, backing vocals; David Link, backing vocals