Hilario Duran has a great emotional attachment to this album. It is a return to Havana to see colleagues and old friends which comes off brilliantly on this new album entitled Encuentro en la Habana.
It is not easy to follow up an award winning album but Hilario has. Winner of the 2005 Juno Awards for Contemporary Jazz Album with New Danzon, Duran went back to his roots and Cuba to record this new album in February of 2006. The highlight of this album could be "Havana City," written by Duran, coming in at just under six minutes; it could be the key that holds this whole thing together. Jorge Reyes plays a subtle bass along with the saxophone of Roman Feliu, you can almost be sitting in the studio, looking out the window at the Havana city and know what they are talking about.
"Ganginga y Sazon" is a tribute to pianist Frank Emilio. Duran pulls off some Emilio runs, similar to the 1999 release, Ancestral Reflections, by Emilio for Blue Note Records. The last song is "Farewell" which is a touching way to end the days of Havana and the stay you had there through Duran’s album.
You really feel like you are leaving, from the drumming of Ernesto Simpson to the timbales of Emilio del Monte, this new album by Hilario Duran could mean a repeat in award winning accolades in 2006 (a Juno would be fitting again) and beyond. Havana goodbye, hello blue sky.