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Coburg's Alex & Nilusha win Premio Internacional at the Cubadisco Music Awards

Article by Michael Dwyer
The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times, Canberra Times, WA Today
May 22, 2015

Coburg duo Alex Pertout​ and Nilusha​ Dassenaike​ made a global splash at the fabled Tropicana Club in Havana last week when their Tales to Tell album won the Premio​ Internacional​ at the Cubadisco​ Music Awards. Selected from an incredibly diverse international pool, the award honours non-Cuban artists "who show creatively the most authentic music values of their peoples." The album was developed over two years and many ports of call with guests from US jazz guitarist Mike Stern to Egyptian percussionist Hossam​ Ramzy​ and Afro-Cuban All Stars pianist David Alfaro. Alex and Nilusha​ fly home to open Richard Bona's Jazz Festival shows at the Malthouse on Friday.


Coburg music duo’s album 'Tales to Tell' wins acclaim at Cubadisco Music Awards
Article by Peter Reynolds
Moreland Leader, Herald Sun
June 12, 2015

Alex Pertout says his and musical partner Nilusha Dassenaike’s success at the Cubadisco Music Awards has opened new doors for the pair. The Coburg duo’s album 'Tales to Tell', released at the end of last year, received the Premio Internacional (international prize) at the awards ceremony, which according to Pertout are described as the "Cuba’s Grammys”. Pertout said many opportunities to promote their music had followed the win. “A new world has been opened up to us following this award,” he said. “We performed quite a few shows and appeared on radio stations while we were there (in Cuba) and we have been invited back to perform some shows next year.
“We have been looking at ways to develop connections and arrive in the international scene and this will really help that.”

The contemporary world music album 'Tales to Tell' was recorded across several years in several countries, including Australia, England, the United States, Cuba and Argentina. It features guest appearances from legendary American guitarist Mike Stern, Cuban pianist David Alfaro, and Egyptian master drummer Hossam Ramzy, as well as a special performance by Tom E Lewis. Pertout said he and Dassenaike were proud of the album they had produced. “We wrote the pieces, performed and put a lot of time into the album, we are extremely happy with it,” he said. “It is our product that we developed on our own little label and we’ve achieved something remarkable with it.”


Alex y Nilusha ganan importante premio en Cuba

Article by Carlos Colina
SBS Spanish Radio
June 13, 2015
File size 6.5 MB | Duration 14 min 11 sec
*Podcast link   
El dueto australiano Alex & Nilusha; él percusionista, compositor y educador nacido en Chile y ella cantante y compositora nacida en Sri Lanka, son los primeros australianos en ganar el 'Premio Internacional' del Cubadisco Music Awards 2015 en La Habana, Cuba con el álbum 'Tales To Tell'.

Alex y Nilusha win important award in Cuba
The Australian duo Alex & Nilusha; him percussionist, composer and educator born in Chile and her vocalist and composer born in Sri Lanka, are the first Australians to win the 'Premio Internacional' at the Cubadisco Music Awards 2015 in Havana, Cuba with the album 'Tales To Tell'.


Australian duo win major award in Cuba
Article by Jonathan Alley
Stack Magazine
June 2015

Australian musicians Alex and Nilusha won the prestigious Premio Internacional award at the 2015 Cubadisco Music Awards in the Cuban capital Havana this week, for their album Tales to Tell. The Cuban Music Institute presents the event once a year, as part of a week-long festival.

Supporting an incredibly broad and eclectic range of categories – from chamber music to Cuban jazz, opera, rock and several other genres Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike , both Melbourne based, come from Chilean and Sri Lankan backgrounds respectively. Pertout has previously worked with the M.S.O and Paul Kelly, while Dassenaike has worked with jazz icons Don Burrows and James Morrison. Their album 'Tales to Tell' reviewed by Stack (October 2014) took out the Premio Internacional category at this year’s event.


Alex & Nilusha win Cubadisco Music Award
Article by Greg Phillips
Australian Musician Magazine
May 15, 2015

Great news just in from Cuba. Melbourne based duo Alex & Nilusha have just won a ‘Premio Internacional’ at the Cubadisco Music Awards held a couple of hours ago at the legendary Tropicana Club in Havana, Cuba. Cubadisco is the music awards presented by the Cuban Music Institute and the Cubadisco Organizing Committee at their annual Music Festival and Conference in Havana, Cuba 15-24 May and is considered to be the Cuban version of the Grammy Awards. The Premio Internacional award was for Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike’s brilliant world music album ‘Tales To Tell’. The pair were at the event to receive the award.


Tales To Tell by Alex & Nilusha wins Cuban Music Award!
What’s Happening in July
July 6, 2015

'Tales To Tell' is the latest release from long-time collaborators and APRA AMCOS members Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike under their project Alex & Nilusha has just won a Premio Internacional at the 2015 Cubadisco Music Awards in Havana, Cuba, the most prestigious musical awards event in Cuba (the Cuban Grammy's). Recording sessions took place in Melbourne, Buenos Aires, New York, London and Havana and featured performances by legendary US guitarist Mike Stern, pianist Paul Grabowsky, Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy, Puerto Rican pianist Edsel Gomez and Argentinian guitarist Alan Plachta. The record was mixed by Doug Brady and mastered by Leon Zervos at Studios 301. 


Dúo Australiano de world music anuncia grabación de disco en Cuba
Prensa Latina / Radio Taino / Cubarte
Agencia Informativa Latinoamericana (Havana, Cuba)
Publicado en Culturales / Portal of Cuban Culture
Lunes, 25 Mayo 2015

El dúo australiano Alex y Nilusha, ganador de un Premio Internacional en la recién concluida feria Cubadisco-2015, adelantó hoy que grabará un álbum en este inspirador país. En declaraciones a Prensa Latina, la internacional pareja de la srilankesa Nilusha Dassenaike y el chileno Alex Pertout destacó la creatividad de los cubanos y sus auténticos valores musicales.

Para su producción fonográfica, aún sin nombre, Alex informó que trabajarán con el ingeniero de sonido Alfonso Peña y con músicos como el cotizado violinista William Roblejo. "Hacemos jazz contemporáneo jazz y world music fusionada, pero nos gusta mucho la música folclórica de Cuba, porque de cierta manera nos representa también", aseguró el intérprete.

Sobre el Cubadisco 2015, Alex consideró un honor ser homenajeado por un trabajo nacido en un país multicultural como Australia, que propició la unión de un sudamericano y una asiática. Radicados en Melbourne, Alex y Nilusha se presentaron en el mítico cabaret Tropicana durante su participación en el Cubadisco, donde recibieron el premio por el álbum 'Tales to Tell'. Dicha producción fue gestada durante más de dos años e involucró al guitarrista estadounidense Mike Stern, el percusionista egipcio Hossam Ramzy y el pianista cubano David Alfaro.

World music Australian duet to announce album recording in Cuba
The Australian duet Alex and Nilusha, winner of an International Prize at the recently concluded Cubadisco 2015 Fair, announced they will record an album in this inspiring country. In declarations to  Prensa Latina, the international couple made up by Sri Lankan Nilusha Dassenaike and Chilean Alex Pertout highlighted the Cubans’ creativity and their true musical values.

In their still nameless phonographic production, Alex mentioned that they will work with sound engineer Alfonso Peña and musicians such as the esteemed violinist William Roblejo. “We do contemporary jazz and a fusion world music, but we also love Cuban folk music, as in a certain way it represents us”, affirmed the percussionist.

Referring to Cubadisco 2015, Alex considered it was an honor to be recognized for a work born out of a multicultural society such as Australia, that supported the union of a South Asian and a South American. Established in Melbourne, during their participation at Cubadisco Alex and Nilusha attended the mythical Tropicana cabaret, where they received the award for their album 'Tales To Tell'. This production took two work years and involved the North American guitar player Mike Stern, Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy and Cuban pianist David Alfaro. Translation: Liana Fleitas (Cubarte)


Visita de ganadores del Premio Internacional
Frequencia Total
Radio Rebelde (Havana, Cuba)
La Habana 17 Mayo

Los ganadores del Premio Internacional Cubadisco 2015, el proyecto de colaboración Alex & Nilusha, de Australia, estuvieron en nuestro programa Frecuencia Total, de Radio Rebelde, el pasado viernes 15 de mayo. Alex Pertout, percusionista de origen Chileno, y Nilusha Dassenaike, vocalista de cualidades excepcionales nacida en Sri Lanka, fueron galardonados en el mayor evento discográfico de Cuba por su álbum 'Tales To Tell' una producción de 2014 que reúne sonoridades de todo el mundo que pueden transitar del jazz a ritmos más contemporáneos. Puede conocer más de estos músicos en el sitio web: alexandnilusha.com — con Tania Rodríguez Brú, Moraima Ruiz, Ibrahim Ramirez, Justino Diaz Cabrera y Giraldo Luis Vera Quijano.

Visit by the winners of the Premio Internacional
The winners of the 'Premio Internacional' at Cubadisco 2015, the collaborative project Alex & Nilusha from Australia, were guests of our program Frecuencia Total of Radio Rebelde, last friday 15 of May. Alex Pertout, percussionist of Chilean origin and Nilusha Dassenaike, a vocalist of exceptional qualities born in Sri Lanka, were awarded the prize at the major recording event in Cuba for their album 'Tales To Tell', a production released in 2014 that contains global sounds that transcend from jazz to more contemporary rhythmic styles. You can find out more about these artists in the website: alexandnilusha.com


VCA staff win the Premio Internacional at Cubadisco 2015
Article by Michelle Moo
MUSSE Melbourne University E-News
June 15 / 159

Alex Pertout and Nilusha Dassenaike of the Faculty of VCA and MCM have taken out the Premio Internacional at the 2015 Cubadisco Music Awards for their album 'Tales To Tell'. Cubadisco is the most prestigious musical awards event in Cuba, with the Premio Internacional given to the most outstanding release from non-Cuban artists. Performing as Alex & Nilusha, percussionist Alex Pertout, Senior Lecturer and Head of Jazz and Improvisation and vocalist Nilusha Dassenaike, Sessional Lecturer at the VCA and MCM, are the first Australians to win the award.

Falling into the 'contemporary jazz/world music' genre, 'Tales To Tell' was recorded over a two-year period in Melbourne, as well as in New York, London, Buenos Aires and Havana involving guest appearances from outstanding musicians such as legendary US guitarist Mike Stern (ex-Miles Davis), pianist Paul Grabowsky, Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy, Puerto Rican pianist Edsel Gomez and Argentinian guitarist Alan Plachta.

While in Havana in 2013, as a result of a successful Global Atelier grant to take five VCA students to learn first-hand from master drummers, organisers from Cubadisco heard a one-song sampler and invited Alex and Nilusha to submit copies of the full album when completed. The Cubadisco Music Awards Ceremony was presented at the legendary Tropicana Club with all the nominated artists present and a huge audience.

“It has been an incredible experience for us,” Mr Pertout said. “Cuba has influenced the global music industry for decades. Cubans are extremely sophisticated and well informed about the arts. They cherish, support and present some of the most diverse genres from classical to experimental to folkloric music and everything in between. “For our project to be acknowledged at an international level in an event of this magnitude has been a blessing.”


Las historias para contar de Alex & Nilusha
Article by Carmenza Jimenez
SBS Spanish Radio
October 21, 2014
File size 6.2 MB | Duration 13 min 30 sec
* Podcast link

'Tales To Tell' (Historias para contar) es el nuevo álbum musical que lanzan al mercado Alex y Nilusha, artistas residentes en Melbourne y que han hecho su carrera musical juntos, como esposos y compañeros de trabajo. La nueva producción fue grabada internacionalmente, en ciudades como Nueva York, Londres, La Habana y Buenos Aires, lo que ofrece una selección de estilos que van desde el jazz contemporáneo, world music, pop, R&B y el toque personal que ofrece la pareja, con raíces latinas y asiáticas. 

The Tales To Tell of Alex & Nilusha
'Tales To Tell' is the new album that Alex & Nilusha have released, they are artists who reside in Melbourne and that are partaking in a musical journey together, both as a married couple and as fellow colleagues. The new production was recorded internationally in cities such as New York, London, Havana and Buenos Aires, what is offers is a selection of styles from contemporary jazz, world music, pop, R&B and the personal touch that the couple offers with their Latin and Asian roots.


Studio Shots: Alex & Nilusha

Article by Tabitha Howard
ABC Arts
June 15, 2012

Two seasoned Melbourne performers are fusing contemporary jazz with the musical traditions of their cultural heritage for a new project titled Alex & Nilusha.

Colombo born, Nilusha Dassenaike, and Alex Pertout, originally from Santiago, Chile, are both well seasoned performers. Nilusha has worked with notable Australian jazz artists such as Don Burrows and Renee Geyer. Alex, a prodigious talent who can play almost every percussion instrument listed in the encyclopaedia, has recording and performance credits with an astonishing array of artists including Powderfinger, Shane Howard, James Morrison, Little River Band and John Farnham, Brian Brown, Hunters & Collectors, Tina Arena, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter. He has also performed as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Australian Art Orchestra led by Paul Grabowsky.

Their first album together 'Moments in Time' was released in March 2012. Teaming up with jazz heavyweights flautist Dave Valentin and pianist Joe Chindamo, they bookend original compositions with popular hits from around the world made fresh with a Southern American/Southern Asian flavour. While visiting Radio National’s The Music Show to perform a few tracks off their album, Alex & Nilusha told host Andrew Ford their respective cultural heritages has enriched their music. Nilusha has been incorporating Sinhala folk music (traditional music of Sri Lanka) into techniques like Southern Indian Carnatic singing. Mostly peasant songs, Sinhala musical traditions rarely see the light of day, say Nilusha. “[It’s] music that’s been buried, sort of lost over time, I think, due to the social hierarchies that still exist in Sri Lanka.” While Alex says his interest in Latin and World music has influenced his work on “everything from the Australian Art Orchestra to Powderfinger.” On The Music Show , Alex and Nilusha, accompanied by Joe Chindamo on piano, performed their versions of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s 'Waters Of March' and James Taylor’s 'You Can Close Your Eyes'.


Alex & Nilusha Moments In Time
Article by KC
Popular Percussionist (Canada)
August 12, 2012

Chilean born Alex Pertout is undoubtably Australia’s most in-demand percussionist. Throughout his vast career he’s provided his talents on hundreds of recordings including a number of chart-topping singles and albums. With a resume that boasts backing the likes of Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, The Commodores and Chaka Khan not to mention his position as a Senior Lecturer and heading up a large department at the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts, it’s no surprise he’s a busy man. But when Pertout decides to put his name forefront on a project, like all great percussionists, he doesn’t rush the tempo.

Pertout’s latest project, Alex & Nilusha, is the culmination of a longtime collaboration with vocalist Nilusha Dassenaike. Sri Lankan born Dassenaike, who has vast performance and session experience herself has a unique vocal style that incorporates a delicate balance between her eastern and western musical influences with rhythmic improvisation. Something that Pertout states is what has always enabled them to find a musical common ground. 'Moments In Time' their debut released earlier this year brings together a stellar cast of Australia’s most distinctive creative performers to participate in their vision. They include jazz pianists Joe Chindamo and Tony Gould, trumpeter Miroslav Bukovsky, drummer David Jones, guitarist Leonard Grigoryan, sarodist Saby Bhattacharya, bassist Craig Newman and legendary Latin-jazz flautist Dave Valentin. The project is a self-described absorbing journey into contemporary jazz, contemporary world and standout originals and has received rave reviews from critics both at home in Australia and worldwide. It’s not surprising, just check out their impassioned rendition of James Taylor’s 'You Can Close Your Eyes' featuring Pertout’s hypnotic berimbau work. 'Moments In Time' is available from iTunes worldwide.


Magic Moments
Article by Jeff Jenkins
April 25, 2012

He was born in Chile. She was born in Sri Lanka. They met in Melbourne. And now they've made an album together: Alex & Nilusha 'Moments In Time' (out on Whispering Tree Music through The Planet Company/MGM). No doubt you own a record with Alex Pertout's name on it - he's the percussion prince, having played with Powderfinger, LRB, Goanna, Hunters & Collectors, Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and many others. The new album features Nilusha Dassenaike's gorgeous, relaxed vocal, as well as Alex's array of instruments ― he plays congas, shekere, okonkolo, cowbell, vibes, glockenspiel, ibo, kanjira, karimba, marimba, tubular bells, frame drum, windchimes,claves, cabasa, berimbaus, cajon, triangle, timbal, pandeiro, cuica, surdo, guataca, bembe drum, reco reco, castanets and bongos. "I have a big collection of percussion instruments," Alex laughs, "and I'm always looking for additions. With my love for recording, every new sound is so important."

With so many glorious subtleties, it 's definitely a headphones record ― props to mixer Doug Brady. It's also a world-class jazz/pop sound, which Alex calls "contemporary world". Among the mix of or iginals and world music is a cover of James Taylor's 'You Can Close Your Eyes'. "We are both massive James Taylor fans," Alex explains. "I always loved 'You Can Close Your Eyes' and started to work on incorporating a pattern played on the berimbau, a wonderful one-string instrument associated with the Brazilian martial arts form called capoeira." Alex and Nilusha bring their 'Moments In Time' to Bennetts Lane on Friday.

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