Pedro Nolasco Jústiz Rodríguez, better known as Peruchín (January 31, 1913 – December 24, 1977), was a Cuban pianist specializing in jazz-influenced Cuban popular music. He was an important figure in the 1950s descarga (jam session) scene in Havana, and one of the most influential Cuban pianists of the 20th century.
Early life and career
Pedro Jústiz was born in Banes, Holguín, on January 31, 1913 into a family of local musicians. Taught by his mother since 1923, he soon learned to play the piano and joined the family band La Rechiva del Son, directed by his uncles. In 1928 he moved to Antilla to study piano and saxophone under the supervision of his grandfather, Emilio Rodríguez. In 1933, his family moved to Santiago de Cuba.
In Santiago, Peruchín had to give up the saxophone due to his asthma, so he concentrated on piano. In the mid-1930s he debuted with Orquesta Chepín-Chovén, where he would alternate on piano with director Bernardo Chovén. In 1940, he joined Los Trovadores del Tono, where he met José "Chombo" Silva and encouraged him to take up the saxophone. Silva would later become a successful saxophonist and violinist in the New York salsa scene. Los Trovadores del Tono was directed by drummer Aurelio Miró Jr., who shortly after moved to Havana, as did Peruchín and other members of the band.
In Havana, Peruchín worked occasionally with Orquesta Casino de la Playa and Mariano Mercerón's orchestra. In 1942 he joined Los Swing Boys, a big band directed by saxophonist Emilio Peñalver and featuring José "Chombo" Silva. He then became a member of the Conjunto Matamoros, an expanded version of the Trio Matamoros. In 1943 he joined Armando Romeu's Tropicana Club orchestra. He rejected an offer by Mario Bauzá to replace Joe Loco in his band, The Afrocubans, and instead recommended René Hernández.
Panama and back in Cuba
Between 1944 and 1949 he lived in Panama, where he played in Carlos Boza's band, frequently performing in clubs and radio stations. After returning to Havana he joined Julio Gutiérrez's orchestra at the Teatro Campoamor. He then formed a duo with double bassist Alfredo León before joining the popular Orquesta Riverside. He then arranged for singer Olga Guillot and was the pianist in Benny Moré's Banda Gigante during the year 1953. Playing with the Riverside did not prevent him from performing with various ensembles, including descarga sessions with Julio Gutiérrez (Panart's Cuban Jam Session), Chico O'Farrill, Emilio Peñalver, and Antobal's Cuban All-Stars. He also directed his own ensembles into the 1960s, releasing LPs such as Piano con moña. He eventually left Orquesta Riverside, focusing on his jazz groups. He formed a trio with Alberto Limonta on double bass and Rodolfo Castiñeira on drums and percussion. He occasionally played in the Club Cubano de Jazz with musicians such as bassist Cachao and drummer Walfredo de los Reyes. He also worked with bassist Cachaíto and drummer Tibo Lee
Later years and death
Peruchín faded from the forefront of the Cuban jazz scene in the second half of the 1960s, giving way to up-and-coming figures such as Chucho Valdés. Since 1972, he sometimes replaced Frank Emilio Flynn in his band Quinteto Instrumental de Música Moderna (also known as Los Amigos), featuring Cachaíto on bass, Guillermo Barreto on drums and Tata Güines on congas. In 1975 he released his last album Piano y ritmo. On December 24, 1977, he died in Havana
Peruchín's style was characterized by the frequent use of block chords, as heard in "Peruchineando", influencing notable pianists such as Charlie Palmieri, George Shearing, Eddie Palmieri, Papo Lucca and Alfredo "Sabor" Linares. Famed pianist Bebo Valdés was his disciple. Together with Lilí Martínez, Noro Morales and Jesús López, he is responsible for establishing the modern Cuban piano style. His frantic way of concatenating guajeos gave rise to a neologism: peruchinear
His son, Pedro Andrés Jústiz Márquez, "Peruchín Jr.", is a guitarist (and pianist too) who played with Orquesta Revé and Los Reyes '73, before directing his own band. His grandson, Rodolfo Argudín Jústiz, also known as Peruchín, is a pianist as well, playing timba with NG La Banda
1954: His Piano and Rhythm Accompaniment (Puchito)
1960: Piano con moña (Gema; re-released as The Incendiary Piano of Peruchín)
1960: Can can cha (Modiner)
1964: Pianoforte (EGREM) – split with Adolfo Guzmán and Frank Emilio Flynn
1975: Piano y ritmo (Areito; re-released as ¡La descarga!)
2005: El Marqués del Marfil: Grabaciones indispensables 1954–1965 (Tumbao Cuban Classics)
Descargas con el ritmo de Cachao (Modiner, 1961)
With Julio Gutiérrez
Cuban Jam Session, Vol. 1 (Panart, 1956)
Cuban Jam Session, Vol. 2 (Panart, 1957)
With Chico O'Farrill's All Star Cuban Band / All-Stars Cubano
Chico's Cha Cha Cha (Panart, 1957)
"Descarga número uno / Descarga número dos" (Gema, 1957)
Los mejores músicos de Cuba (Gema, 1959)
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