Kurt Rosenwinkel, Charles Lloyd and Chucho Valdes at the Barcelona Jazz Festival
Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers
42 Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival
Palau de la Música Catalana
November 17, 2010
After Lloyd, the Barcelona audience had the chance to witness Chucho Valdes, playing with his Afro-Cuban Messengers in one of the most spectacular auditoriums in the world: the Palau de la Música Catalana. Built between 1905 and 1908, it was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and is, in itself, worth a visit. It is a unique auditorium and one not likely to be seen elsewhere in the world. The room was full, and anticipation in the air, for this Afro-Cuban project, was palpable. Cuba has, of course, long ties with Spain, and so it's only natural that people from Barcelona feel this music very deeply and resonate with it.
Valdés came to town to present Chucho's Steps (Harmonia Mundi/Four Quarters, 2010). He mirrored multiculturalism, making his music all the richer. His blend of bebop and hard bop with Cuban rhythms, producing a wide spectrum of sounds and colors, created a cheerful and eclectic show; clearly, the audience left some of its blues at the Palau that night.
Of all the songs Valdés and his band presented, "Danzón," "Zawinul's Mambo" (dedicated to Joe Zawinul), "New Orleans" (dedicated to the Marsalis family), "Chucho's Steps" and "Begin to be Good" were the most thrilling. The pianist is obviously a well-established and world class musician. He knows the history of jazz piano, and he frequently quoted some of his masters, either via classic jazz standards or through bits of well-known solos, making even the new material popularor, at least, giving it a connection with jazz audiences.
Back in the hotel, Valdés was surprised by a young, 12 year-old French reporter, Charles Dubrulle-Deghelt, who interviewed him for his blog at L'Express magazine. Clearly, jazz will not be out of print for the next few years.