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Omara Portuondo & Chucho Valdes: Omara & Chucho

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Omara Portuondo and Chucho ValdésOmara & ChuchoWorld Village2011 After 50 years of carrying a torch for Bueno Vista Social Club singer Omara Portuondo, pianist Chucho Valdés has finally succeeded in getting her into bed. The rear sleeve photo on Omara & Chucho shows the pair side by side between the sheets and smiling broadly, although, admittedly, both appear to be clothed, and are mugging it up for the camera. Valdés and his father, bandleader Bebe Valdés, each took a shine to Portuondo when the singer was part of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes & the Afro-Cuban Messengers: Chucho's Steps

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The odyssey of pianist Chucho Valdés has been well documented from his early days in Cuba playing in his father Bebo's Sabor de Cuba Orchestra to the founding of Irakere and on to new pastures as he infused fresh blood into Latin music and jazz. Valdez has never been fettered; his ideas are constantly evolving, finding avenues that give his music broad scope. He filters the narrowest of nooks and fills them with his majestic vision. He is truly a giant who has extended the boundaries of jazz with a presence that locks into the larger context as a pianist, ...

INTERVIEWS

Chucho Valdes: The Music Never Ends

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Chucho Valdés arrived at his All About Jazz interview confident: of his music and of Spain's victory in the South African FIFA World Cup. It was July 11th 2010, and for the first time in its history, Spain's national team had reached a World Cup final, in South Africa. A Cuban interested in football? “A lot of people watch football in Cuba now, especially the Spanish league. I began to get excited about football in the last three years, in Argentina, and I like the way the Spanish team is playing in this tournament, like a team rather than a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers: Chucho's Steps

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The semiology contained on pianist Chucho Valdés' magnificent Chucho's Steps points to the character of the music before the disc has even been taken out of its sleeve. First there's the name of the group and its reference to drummer Art Blakey's ferociously swinging Jazz Messengers. Then there's the title of the opener, “Las dos caras" ("Both Sides"), which hints at the two jazz traditions, American and Afro-Cuban, defining its particular style--an idea reinforced by the image of a crossroads, signalling an intersection of styles, on the front cover. And then there's the title of a second track, “Yansá," which ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Chucho Valdes Quintet at 2009 Ottawa International Jazz Festival

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Chucho Valdés Quintet 2009 Ottawa International Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada July 3, 2009

The rain held off and skies cleared just in time for the Chucho Valdés Quintet to delight the audience at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Confederation Park. The group-consisting of Chucho Valdés on piano, Lazaro Alarcon on bass, drummer Juan Carlos Rojas, percussionist Yurali Abreu and vocalist Mayra Caridad Valdés (who appeared later in the set)--started the set with an Ellington medley. “Satin Doll" smoothly segued into “In A Sentimental Mood" and then “Caravan." Valdés is a master at his instrument ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Chucho Valdes And The Birth Of Irakere

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Rumor Records' Jazz Cuba series cherry picks from 300 recordings made primarily for local consumption from the mid 1950s through the late 1980s at the Panart and Areito studios in Havana, Cuba. Some may briefly have surfaced in the US via the Cuban exile community, but none have previously been released in the UK or mainland Europe.

The first five releases include four albums led by or featuring pianist Chucho Valdes which trace the genesis of the seminal jazz-and-roots band Irakere, from Chucho Valdes & Combo in 1964, through the Orquesta Cubana De Musica Moderna in the late ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes: New Conceptions

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The album title is misleading. It is more than about time for the immensely talented Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes to come up with a wholly new musical concept for an album, particularly since he has been repeating the “Tyner-meets-Tatum in Havana" mode for many years. What sounds freshest here are polyrhythmic workouts with drummers Yaroldy Abreau Robles and Ramses Rodriguez Baralt on original Valdes tunes synthesizing Afro-Cuban religious drum rhythms with waves of thunderous piano riffs by Valdes. What sounds lackluster are his attempt to Cubanize Ellington, and what major jazz composer less needs Latinizing when he knew how to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes: New Conceptions

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Half in jest, perhaps, Chucho Valdes calls the music he's developing “Cubanglish," a synthesis of Afro-Cuban and American jazz sounds that is unparalleled. On New Conceptions, the sixty year old pianist works with his quartet plus some well-chosen guest artists, in a break from his big band, Irakere; and what you get here is a purer pared-down example of Chucho Valdes' genius.Valdes combines a technical mastery of his instrument with an exuberant vision as clear as any. He's a keyboardist who can send a bursting bird flock glissando soaring with his right hand while his ground bound left ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes: Solo: Live in New York

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It’s a wonderful thing that Chucho Valdes has found such a healthy outlet for his aggression. Valdes demonstrates a dizzying exuberance at the piano during this 1998 solo date recorded at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse. Thoroughout the date it sounds like Valdes can barely contain his enthusiasm. Just when Valdes hits a repeating montuno and solicits clapping along from the audience he erupts into a free jazz cadenza ala Cecil Taylor. The clapping very abruptly tapers off.

Valdes displays amazing versatility. During the performance he borrows liberally from the straightforward melodicism of Keith Jarrett, the strum-pum-pum of Chopin polonaises, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes: Solo-Live in New York

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It’s a wonderful thing that Chucho Valdes has found such a healthy outlet for his aggression. Valdes demonstrates a dizzying exuberance at the piano during this 1998 solo date recorded at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse. Thoroughout the date it sounds like Valdes can barely contain his enthusiasm. Just when Valdes hits a repeating montuno and solicits clapping along from the audience he erupts into a free jazz cadenza ala Cecil Taylor. The clapping very abruptly tapers off. Valdes displays amazing versatility. During the performance he borrows liberally from the straightforward melodicism of Keith Jarrett, the strum-pum-pum of Chopin polonaises, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chucho Valdes: Chucho Valdes Live!

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Cuban music legend, Jesus “Chucho” Valdes is fiery hot and still impacting the jazz world with his diverse musical elements. Riding the new wave in Latin jazz fostered by the pianist’s critically acclaimed Bele Bele en la Habana on Blue Note in 1998, Valdes reserved enough energy to excite his fans with an exquisite blend of technique and soul on Live. The CD, an infectious, collection of cubop grooves and rhythms, further develops the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz collective Chucho has been pulsating for the past 25 years as musical director of Irakere, the award-winning band he co-founded to play ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Irakere featuring Chucho Valdes: Yemay

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Taking its name from a forest region in Africa where percussionists formed the basis for Cuban music two hundred years ago, Irakere blends timbales, congas, drum set and the heavily percussive piano of Chucho Valdés with its tight horn section. Vocal chorus, call & response melodic patterns, traditional rhythms, and exciting improvised instrumental solos mark their performances. Valdés, son of pianist and composer Ramon “Bebo" Valdés, was “discovered" by Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan at the 1970 Jazz Jamboree in Poland. He helped organize Irakere in 1973 and assumed its leadership role; more information is available at http://www.bembe.com/afrocubanismo/ .

“La ...



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