B i o g r a p h y
Raul Eduardo Blanco Legra (Raul Blanco) hails from Camaguey, Cuba. (central region of the island). His paternal grandmother was a piano teacher, which not only inspired his father’s love for music, but that love was passed on to his son. Blanco attended many of his troubadours trio performances, where he learned how to play chords on the piano and guitar. Blanco’s mother recognized his sincere interest in music and decided to take him to the music conservatory, were he was approved after an intense year of preparation and elimination tests. He began his studies on piano at seven years old at Luis Casas Romero Art Conservatory, in Camaguey. A move to Havana when he was ten-years-old, after his parent’s separation, led him to acceptance into the Music Conservatory “Alejandro Garcia Caturla.” During this period, he participated and won several piano contests. He also got a strong foundation from playing in church where he further developed his ear and was exposed to popular music. At the end of his “elementary level” (3rd to 9th grade) he started to show interest towards jazz. Although, access was very limited. By the end of 9th grade, he started “Middle Level” at Music Conservatory “Amadeo Roldán” in Havana. During these years his technique continued to develop (from playing a lot of Chopin and Czerny). Blanco also joined the “Traditional Charanga” orchestra and the “Popular Music Workshop” were he advanced his knowledge of Cuban and Brazilian music. At church he delved into exploration of multiple genres, it was that experience that would begin the foundation of his musical development.
A move to the United States at eighteen gave Blanco a chance to work at an elementary school as a choir and music teacher, although his experiences there gave him a thirst to finish his degree and pursue higher education. Living in Houston, TX, he began to meet musicians from the Latin scene in the city. Soon, he was accompanying artists at festivals and concerts. It had turned out that his experiences with Cuban and Latin music was paying off. He began working on his bachelor’s at the Community College and soon after at Texas Southern University, were he met jazz saxophonist Horace Alexander Young. Blanco joined the Big Band and under his mentoring, he was finally starting to understand some of the mysteries of jazz. At the same time, another huge factor of influence was his classical piano professor Dr. Lucian Zidaru. Through his tutelage he helped Blanco connect to the music in a totally different way.
Another project that helped propel his career and knowledge in the orchestration world was his work as musical director of the Northwest Hispanic SDA Church Orchestra. During these years, Raul had the opportunity to write and arrange chamber music that ranged from classical to popular.
The third important element that shifted Blanco’s career was an album that he began producing with a friend, singer Niho Mozas. Together they spent four years producing the album, and in the process, he further garnered his abilities in arranging, studio recording, mixing, mastering, editing and everything related to studio work. This experience also lent itself to his teaching position at a middle school, were he helped the kids compose their own songs, create tracks, record them and make music videos. The result was a project of about 20 songs. Giving the kids life experiences of creativity.
His ability playing Latin and Cuban music led him to participate in the amazing project called D'Cuba. This 14-piece band, directed by Cuban trombonist Yankar Gonzalez, broke ground in Houston TX by creating their repertory with heavy and spirited tunes from the modern "Cuban timba" world. Raul contributed in this endeavor by transcribing all the music and arranging it for the orchestra.
The Pullman Years
In 2017, with the help and recommendations of Horace Alexander Young, he was able to start his master’s at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. There he met piano teacher Brian Ward, who (almost magically) helped Blanco have a deeper understanding of jazz. From the first lesson, Blanco experienced an explosion of composition inspiration, and started writing jazz and classical. He composed a piece for the symphonic orchestra that was premiered on February 2018 and he began his own personal jazz project Jazz Wires, comprised of some of the brightest students from campus. Together, they started playing and recording standards and original compositions. In a short period of time they have been able to release four singles and two albums.
I'm trying to find some way to summarize my music style and everything that I do. It is very hard. For those of you who know me, I like to play all kinds of styles and explore new things all the time. I think I can work my mind around the concept of storytelling through music. I really think that every time I play, I'm trying to tell a story, whatever the style it is. I like to go in a journey to faraway places and discover new worlds. And finally, at the end of that journey, I try to connect with the deepest emotions through the music.
This is actually my way compensate the fact that in real life, I tend to not be aware of my own emotions. Whenever there is an important step ahead of me, or any situation where someone could probably be nervous, I show myself very calm and rested, and just work through the hardships and challenges.
Music is my escape, and my inspiration is the World.
I invite you to come with me in this amazing journey of life, surrounded by Music.
Raul Eduardo Blanco