"We wanted to make a fresh new sound . Fusing My New york / Cuban background, with Axel's Afro Cuban background along with all the other sounds we loved listening to Like Hip hop, Rnb, Soul, Blues, Eletronica, Weird Beat Music, Rock,Jazz,Soul, & Funk. We wanted to do something with Cuban music that's never been done before. As Micheal,Chris and Max came in to the mix things began to change and open up. Each member is is a musical puzzle piece, They each bring their sound, and life experiences to the table. we have a unlikely unorthodox collaboration, we've broken the rules of what a typical band is supposed be. In fact we stop being a "band" a really long time ago. (U)nity is a movement. a collation of like minded artists. We pay homage to the past.we respect and know the history.but we're not held back by it."- Amaury Acosta
(U)nity was the musical project, of five musicians from different corners of the world. But it stopped being a band a really long time ago. It now has morphed into an ideal, a collective, a movement, of like minded artists that Bring their heritage, expertise, and wisdom to create a sonic euphoria. The core : Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta have created an unlikely collaboration, Ranging from a multitude of cultural backgrounds, Paris, Havana, Minneapolis, Providence and NYC. In their mission of fusing Afro Cuban culture with modern jazz, soul, hip-hop and gospel they’ve sacrificed neither virtuosity nor groove
Conceived in the summer of 2006 by Cuban American Drummer Amaury Acosta and Cuban pianist Axel Tosca Laugart. (U)nity represented a universal ideal for the two. They envisioned a collective of musicians whose every note would have the power to cross the lines that divide genres, countries and cultures and reach each listener, no matter his or her place in life.
In 2008, while studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City , Axel and Amaury were joined by French guitarist Michael Valeanu, Bassist Chris Smith and alto saxophonist Max Cudworth
Each and every note has the power to cross the lines that divide music and reach each listener in its own unique way. Reflecting back on (U)nity's strong heritage and eclectic modern influences, their sound have been influenced by : John Coltrane, Miles Davis , J Dilla, Chucho Valdez, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, D'Angelo, Los Van Van, Parliament Funkadelic, Robert Glasper, James Brown, The Soulquarians, Arnold Schoenberg, Led Zeppelin, Alan Holdsworth, Art Blakey And the Jazz Messengers, Just Blaze, Jimi Hendrix, Flying Lotus, La Charanga Habanera, Los Muñequitos De Matanzas, Brian Blade Fellowship , Thelonious Monk , Pancho Quinto, Tata Guines, Jay-Z, Tony Williams, Issac Delgado,Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Irakere Herbie Hancock,Derek Trucks, Nas, Freddie Hubbard,The Grizzly bears,
In early 2017 they premiered the documentary film entitled “(U)nity is Power” which was shot through 3 years of making the album.
The 14 track manifesto will feature Bass Hero Pino Palladino , Cuban Percussionist & Vocalist Pedrito Martinez, Multi Instrumentalist Devonne Harris Aka DJ Harrison , Vocalists Jonathan Hoard, Lauren Desberg , Flautist Elena Pinderhughes, and Bassists Luques Curtis,Dj Ginyard, Joshua Crumbly, and more.
Drums / Musical Direction
Amaury Acosta - Cuban-American drummer brings an authentic Afro-Cuban sound, and also blends together the various musical influences he experienced growing up in Hell’s Kitchen NYC. At the age of 11, he began studying privately with master drummer Alex Garcia. At age 14, Amaury was awarded a scholarship to Boys harbor conservatory of music in New York City where he studied with David Oquendo, Johnny Almendra Ramon Rodriguez. He attended La Gaurdia high school for performing arts and graduated from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School in2006. In 2008 He transferred to The New School For Jazz & Contemporary Music in New York City where he studied with Charlie Persip, Dr.Reginald Workman, Billy Harper, Johanes Widenmueller, Richard Harper, Junior Mance,Gerald D’Angelo, Ari Hoening, Obed Calvaire, Greg Hutchinson, Nasheet Waits,Gerald Clayton, Jimmy Owens, Cecil Bridgewater, and many more. Amaury has played and Recorded with Candido Camero , Paquito D’Riverra, Wynton Marsalis, Luques & Zaccai Curtis, Michael Rodriguez,Chris Smith, Xiomara Laugart, Pedrito Martinez, Isreal “Cachao” Lopez, George Cables, Chris Turner, Kenneth Whalum III, Burniss Earl Travis , Armando Gola, Jose James, Taylor Mcferrin,Myron Walden, Sean Jones, Lonnie Plaxico, Arturo O’Farril, John Benitez,Robert Glasper, Pino Palladino, Godwin Louis, James Genius, Yosvany Terry, Cornel Bruce Hampton, Mauric Brown, Lew Soloff, Yunior Terry, Taylor Eigsti, Joe Sanders, Jaleel Shaw, Osmany Paredes, Robert Glasper, Jermey Pelt, David Bryant, Logan Richardson and many more.
Axel Tosca Laugart
Piano& Keyboards / Musical Direction
Axel Tosca Laugart was Born on January 27, 1984, in Havana Cuba. Axel is one of the most dynamic young pianists on the scene. Laugart's family influenced his musical interests at an early age. Both his father and stepfather were musicians and his father's guitar playing sparked and early interest in the instrument. He began playing around the age of four,accompanying his parents. Laugart's mother, Xiomara Laugart, is a world-famous singer, whom he still performs with today.At the age of seven,Laugart became interested in the piano. Miriam Valdez, the sister of the virtuoso Chucho Valdez, and Rosa Maia Tolo influenced him. Laugart credits Tolo with helping mature his style and musicality.Laugart benefitted from a wide range of musical experiences growing up in Cuba. Dennis & Swing was a group that Laugart credits for "giving me the real timba groove." Laugart also played with the Afro Cuban All Stars, Teresa Garcia Caturla, Sexteto Sendito, Jose Miguel Crego (known as“El Greco”), George Clinton & parliament Funkadelic, Steve Gadd, Wynton Marsalis, Earth Wind and Fire, Yosvany Terry, Isaac Delgado, Bobby Carcases Group, Louie Vega, Pino Paladino, Steve Gadd, Lenny White, Terron Gully, Stacey Dillard, Pedrito Martinez, Roman Filu, John Benitez, Lenny White, Roy Ayers, Femi kutti, Ravi Coltrane, his Mother Xiomara Laugart,Casey Benjamin, Foley, Manolin El Medico de la Salsa, Manolito y su Trabuco, Gerardo Contino.
Sax/Effects & Compositions
Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, alto saxophonist Max "Cuddles" Cudworth grew up with the sound of the blues in his ears. His appreciation for the music was encouraged by his father, who played harmonica around the house and introduced max to the music of blues masters King Curtis, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. At age nine, Max began playing the alto with elementary school friends. He continued playing through his early education, studying with Greg Takamoto who soon had him performing around Providence. While still in high school Max performed with R&B legend Macy Gray and was awarded the Berklee High School Exceptional Musicianship Award in 2006. Continuing his musical education, Max left Providence for New York City where he attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and began studying with New York musicians Dave Glasser, Greg Hutchinson, Billy Harper and John Ellis. As a student at The New School Max met and began playing with his fellow students and (U)nity band mates Amaury Acosta and Axel Laugart. Max's first album as a composer and bandleader, Wilson Candy Store was released in the fall of 2011. Since graduating from The New School in 2010, Max has been performing around New York City with his quintet, Charlie Persip's Supersound, (U)nity and The De Paises Project. He has performed at the NYC Winter Jazz fest with (U)nity and traveled to Columbia, South America with De Paises to play at the 2012 Jazz al Parque Festival. His plans for the future are to continue developing his unique sound and working on compositions.
Born in Paris, France in 1985, New York based guitarist and composer Michael Valeanu is one of the most exciting players of his generation. His passion for Jazz and for all the other genres of music he came across while growing up as a musician in France and in the United States has allowed him to create a unique voice on his instrument.
Michael started studying guitar when he was 14 years old but the music was always around him. He recalls playing with his dad's guitar since he was able to stand. " My dad is a music lover and an amateur guitarist. He would play guitar on my mom's belly when I was in the womb. He passed me the love for this instrument and he exposed me with a lot of different music, regardless of any stylistic boundaries."
In 2008, in order to quench his thirst for music and to learn "Real Jazz" he moved to New York city and attended the New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music. " I was finally able to study and play with my heroes and I was surrounded by young talented musicians." In 2010 he was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program for a two weeks residency at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Since then Michael has played in New York Jazz clubs such as Small's, Jazz Standard, Birdland, Smoke and in clubs and festivals all over the States, as well as in Europe and in Japan. In 2012 he released his debut album "Tea Time" and his second album "Hard To Cook" will be available on the 28th of April 2015.