“Music is everything to me. Music unites, it brings you love and allows you to decide what you want to do in life,” says the celebrated Cuban artist Giraldo Piloto.
Founder of the group Klimax almost 20 years ago, Piloto is from a family with music in its blood. His grandfather was a musician; his father, a distinguished and well-known composer; his mother, a founder of the Art Instructors’ School; and his brother, uncles, cousins and a number of his nephews are also musicians.
“I grew up in a musical environment, and from a very young age I began taking piano classes from my mother. I enrolled in the Alejandro García Caturla Conservatory in Havana, and graduated from the Higher School of the Arts (ENA) in 1980 as a percussionist,” he told Cubaplus in an interview.
“And that is when my professional life began. First I was a percussionist with the house band of the Tropicana cabaret, and then in 1988 I joined NG La Banda, founded by the talented Cuban musician José Luis Cortes. From 1992 to 1994 I worked as musical director of Isaac Delgado’s band, and then in 1995 I started my own group, Klimax.
“The creation of Klimax initially had the purpose of specifically cultivating two music genres: popular dance music and Latin jazz, and not to shine the spotlight on anyone in particular, but to have music as the center of attention. “In our 18 years of work, Klimax has produced eight albums, some of which have won awards at Cubadisco, the event that is considered as a window to the world for Cuba’s recording production.”
Award-winning albums include Nadie se parece a ti, and Klimax & friends, “featuring jazz, which is our banner,” and Solo tú y yo, featuring the celebrated Cuban performers Omara Portuondo, Pablo Milanés and Chucho Valdés. Piloto has collaborated internationally in many other productions, including Un centímetro de ti, with Willie Rosario (1993), Lo que me faltó por hacerte, with Isidro Infante (1998), Una corazonada, with Fuerza Juvenil (2000), and No me mires a los ojos, with Gilberto Santa Rosa (2004).
Klimax has performed on numerous stages throughout Latin America, in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru; almost all of Europe; and also in the top jazz and world music festivals that are held in Europe and the Americas, including the Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Nice Jazz Festival, Vienne Jazz Festival (France), Blues Fest (Ottawa), La Mar de Músicas (Spain), Cannes (France), Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Horsens (Denmark), Salsa al Parque (Colombia) and the Garanhus Winter Festival (Brazil).
In the coming year, Klimax will be touring Norway, France, Finland, Belgium, the United States, and other countries. “Right now we’re preparing a new album, but the top thing on our minds is the Fiesta del Tambor, or Havana Drum Festival, which takes place in March in the Cuban capital.” Piloto has been president of this important event for the last 12 years.
“As in previous years, we are expecting the presence of notable national and international musicians from all over. Past festivals have enjoyed the participation of Dom Famularo, Aldo Mazza, Memo Acevedo, Mike del Ferro, Alex Acuña (trio), Charlie Cooley and Chuck Silverman.” The festival features an International Cuban Percussion Contest, open to anyone who is interested, “and it basically lets people know about some of the new talent that emerges every year in percussion in general,” Piloto said. In addition, and for the first time, the Fiesta del Tambor will also feature an International Casino Dance Contest, open to registration by dancers from Cuba or any other country who want to compete and show off their dancing skills. First prize consists of three nights in a hotel in Havana and another three nights in a hotel in Varadero, Piloto said, adding that many other prizes would be awarded as well.
“Anyone who wants to participate should sign up for the contest, and I guarantee that they will spend some unforgettable days to the beat of Cuban music,” Piloto said with a smile.