NO WAY BACK
NEW ALBUM JUNE 2023
Gerry Lopez NEW album
An interview with the Mexican saxophonist to discover his upcoming musical project: “Sin Vuelta Atràs”. A unique album in his career that takes him from pure jazz sounds to his deepest roots, the authentic rhythms of Mexico, Cuba and Latin America
How did the idea for this new album come about?
I started talking with my producer Elizabeth Escamilla about the idea of going back to my roots and to the origin of the music where I come from (I’m from Mexico). We talked about how important the authentic rhythms of my country are: Bolero, Cha cha cha, Sones and also Son jarocho. So we decided to include them in my new album, through compositions and arrangements and involving great stars from Latin Jazz world like Horacio ¨El negro¨ Hernandez, Alain Perez, Carlos Miyares, Yuya Rodriguez, Rafael Paseiro and El Wiwi.
My last production ¨The sound of Frida¨ was based mainly on jazz because of my music studies and artistic background, so this new album is something really new in my career.
Can you explain the deep meaning of the title “Sin vuelta atràs”?
Basically, “Sin Vuelta Atrás” means “No way back”. I chose this title because I left my country 12 years ago and this year I celebrate my 10th anniversary in Europe. At the beginning I came to Europe to play, also to Spain and Amsterdam, but Paris convinced me so much with its energy and vibes that I decided to stay and continue my studies at the Paris Conservatory. Since then I have realized that in life there is no turning back once you have made a very important decision, as I did when I decided to build my future in Europe. Of course, this has nothing to do with the geographical location, I usually come back to Mexico once a year, it’s more about those “life-changing” moments that determine one’s path.
Who are your musical icons? And your artistic mentors?
I consider myself an “old soul,” so I’m really into old composers and the music from my grandfather’s generation. Since I was a kid, I was very interested in classical music, and also at home my parents listened to a lot of boleros. As classical icons I can mention: Mahler, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev. When I was 12 years old, I discovered jazz and my favorite composers were Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus among others. At the same time, I was still listening to Mexican and Latin American music, such as Augustin Lara, César Portillo de La Luz, Bolanieve, and also contemporary composers such as Armando Manzanero, Luis Demetrio, so my musical icons cover a wide range of genres. As for my mentors, in my career I’ve had the opportunity to play with and learn from great musicians like Brian Lynch, a great composer, trumpeter and Grammy Award winner from New York. Another of my greatest artistic mentors is Alain Perez, who will also be featured on this album. I would also mention Kenny Garrett, Miguel Zenon and many other great musicians that I respect very much and that I follow.
Do you have a favorite song and why?
Honestly, all the songs on this album are my favorites because I chose them individually. Each track is special because it tells a part of a story, and the whole tracks together are like a whole story, so if I miss a soundtrack, I miss a part of the story.
What is your artistic dream? Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
It is perhaps a dream that I am already living, which is to collaborate with great artists and musicians. For me it is very important and I would like this “dream” to continue throughout my life. Then, of course, I would like to play with certain artists and then record my albums. Basically, I think you have to work hard to achieve your dreams, and that’s what I’m doing, and with discipline, work and a little bit of luck, I think I’ll be able to achieve and make my dreams come true. When I talk about myself in 10 years, I would like to do a symphonic project with the most famous Mexican music, arranged with some of my music and recorded here in Europe.
Is there a special anecdote or curiosity about this album that you would like to share with us?
There are so many anecdotes, but I can tell you one in particular. I recorded this album at Abdala Studios in Havana, Cuba. We all know that Cuba is a special place. They have been cut off from the world for 62 years and communication is not so easy, but I still tried to organize and prepare everything for the recording. When I arrived in Cuba in July, some protesters took to the streets and I was right in the center of Havana where everything was happening. I was in my hotel and I realized how lucky I was to be able to make my music and record my album while other people were struggling and suffering. It was like a sign for me, and I felt very inspired. I had always wanted to write a composition called Sin Vuelta Atràs, but until that moment I didn’t have it. On that particular day it came to my mind and I started writing it, and then I finally did. It’s funny because I had the whole concept of the album and all the tracks, except this one, which I composed two days before I went into the studio, in the middle of Havana in Cuba. So this album is definitely one of the most important projects in my career so far.
Interview by Clara Galanti for https://escamillaproductions.com/2022/01/01/sin-vuelta-atras/