Pianist Hilario Durán was born in 1953 in Havana, Cuba. He was naturally influenced by the greats of Cuban piano music like Ernesto Lecuona, Frank Emilio Flynn, and Peruchin. He studied and graduated from the revered Amadeo Roldan Music Institute in Havana, which has boasted fellow graduates Chucho Valdés, Paquito d'Rivera, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Durán also studied the tumbao with Evaristo Aparicio, composition and conducting with Germán Piferrer, and orchestral techniques with Guillermo Barreto. His early band Los D'Siempre was not as anchored in playing folkloric, traditional Cuban music or polyrhythmic music as expanding the harmonic language of it with jazz infusions. When d'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval defected from Cuba to the U.S. in 1980 and Irakere made their initial splash on the American music scene, Durán was inspired to follow their lead. The pianist joined Sandoval's band and remained for nine years from 1981-1990, collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie & the United Nations Orchestra, and worked with composer/arranger Michel Legrand. In 1990 Durán formed his own band, Perspectiva, touring through Latin America and Europe, and was the pianist in Jane Bunnett's award-winning Spirits of Havana band.
In 1995, after a final European tour with Perspectiva, Durán established his solo career and moved to Toronto, Canada, with his family. An important part of the Canadian music scene ever since, he has been a member of the jazz faculty at Humber College, acting as both an adjunct piano professor and ensemble director. The many musicians he has collaborated with include Tata Güines, Changuito, Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, Jorge Reyes, Roberto Occhipinti, Larry Cramer, John Patitucci, Michael Brecker, Regina Carter, Dave Valentin, Juan Pablo Torres, John Benitez, Dafnis Prieto, Hugh Marsh, Carlos "Patato" Valdés, and Leny Andrade, as well as classical ensembles Quartetto Gelato and the Gryphon Trio. Bunnett's Spirits of Havana CD won a Juno award in 1990, while Durán himself was nominated in 2003 for a Juno for the CD Havana Remembered, and won in 2005 for New Danzon. In 2005 Durán formed his Latin Jazz Big Band with Canadian and Cuban musicians in Toronto, collaborating with Russia's Globalis Symphony Orchestra and playing arrangements by Roberto Occhipinti. ~ Michael G. Nastos