How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The high energy Chucho Valdés Quartet frames the leader’s powerful piano melodies with timeless Afro-Cuban rhythmic patterns. Swarming forcefully at the New York nightspot, the pianist shows his audience many different sides of his acoustic jazz piano quartet, from sweet and gentle to highly dramatic. Creative throughout, Valdés moves from traditional dance steps to avant-garde distinction while carrying his unique keyboard approach everywhere. Picture a big man with big hands moving all over that piano, raining down waves of consonant music while articulating each note individually. His swinging salute to Bud Powell fits it all in, tightly packed and vibrant. With a dramatic solo piano treatment of "Son XXI," Valdés digs deep into the grand piano’s bass registers for a rumbling awakening and balances that with pastoral phrases, even quoting from "Summertime." Valdés’ sister Mayra sings the soulful ballad "Drume Negrita" in Spanish, building with forceful energy at the end. "Como Traigo la Yuca" has a gentle mood and a melody similar to that of the decades-old hit parade classic "Guantanamera." Valdés tosses in a quote of "The Minute Waltz" with as many notes squeezed in throughout. Highly recommended, the Chucho Valdés’ live session achieves a balance for his audience - from gentle and familiar to creative and forcefully dramatic – that draws jazz lovers through its variety and memorability.
Track Listing: Anabis; Son XXI (Para Pia); Punto Cubano; My Funny Valentine; To Bud Powell; Drume Negrita; Como Traigo la Yuca; Ponle la Clave; Encore