Crossing Borders with Heading North
ith his debut, Heading North, violinist, composer and bandleader Jesús Florido introduces a compelling artistry balanced on a fine axis of musical virtuosity and pure heart. “This album came about from what is not out there from an instrumental point of view,” he explains. “Jazz, rock, classical, Latin – my album is a melting pot.”
The savory list of sonic influences can be traced back to Venezuela, Jesús’ home, and its pastiche of venezuelan, cuban, dominican, and african cultures. Jesús’ family is Italian, and in the grand European tradition, opera and classical music also informed his early years. He embarked on his first tour at age eleven. By twenty, he had performed in concert with every major symphony orchestra in his homeland.
He arrived in the U.S. to further his studies in musical academia, but was soon performing in cavernous arenas to enormous audiences with Yo Yo Ma, the Moody Blues, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, and Whitney Houston. This high profile exposure fueled the fire to ignite his own solo career.
Heading North is notable for the contributions of the musicians, producers, engineers and programmers who join Jesús. “It was important to me that this project was different from the get go,” he relates. “I wanted to communicate on a higher level.”
Heading North features a superlative ensemble: Rigoberto López on bass, three-time Grammy®-winning drummer Raúl Pineda, José Gregorio on percussion, Gustavo Ramirez on keyboards and John Villalobos on guitars and tres. Adding to the album’s eclectic sheen are special guests including two-time Grammy®-nominated Luis Enrique, famed two-time Grammy®-nominated programmer/ remixer Carmen Rizzo, and Fender® artists and guitar hero Gary Hoey.
Jesús composes in an unconventional miracle of pure inspiration, building songs from a rhythmic and harmonic base – chords and a drumbeat – then improvising on top of them. “I may clean it up, but I assure you, on every track what you hear is exactly what came through my head in that moment. To write fresh music I have to recall exactly how I felt about the tune the first time I heard it,” he reveals.
Across this vivid spectrum of music, the unmistakable timbre of Jesús’ violin remains an indelible voice connecting the songs that comprise Heading North. From the sophisticated veneer of the title track to the incendiary Latin grooves of “Mi Negra,” the prog-rock influenced “Con Todo,” the electro-Santeria vibe of “Gitano” to the funk-informed “Olividado,” Jesús bends rhythmic and melodic structures to his will. “Every song is a story without words,” he relates. “If I can tell it to the audience when they listen to my record, then I’ve succeeded .” With his violin as a compass, Jesús Florido heads toward a limitless musical horizon with a stunning debut, Heading North.