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Mayra Caridad Valdes: La Diosa del Mar

Dan McClenaghan By

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Consider the bloodlines here: Vocalist Mayra Caridad Valdes is the sister of Latin Grammy-winning pianist, Chucho Valdes, whom she has toured with; she is the daughter of renowned pianist Bebo Valdes, the aunt of Chuchito Valdes, Jr., who had a hit CD, Encantado , just last year. Now it's Mayra's turn, following in the familial Afro-Cuban tradition in top form with her debut CD, La Diosa del Mar.

Ms. Valdes has a rich, strong alto voice combined with a scatting ability that invites comparisons to Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. For her first time on disc, Lady Mayra has put together a tropical hot band that rolls right into the opener, "Drume Negrito", with percussion and piano that churns the song to life with a rollicking third world beat, an intricate duet that leads into Mayra's assured, powerhouse alto, followed by a sizzling tenor sax solo. A get up out of the chair and dance tune. "Mambo Influencia" is next, and it won't let you sit down either, then Mayra shows her chops as supple, rich-toned balladeer on "Danza Naniga", then gives the time honored "Besame Mucho" a sultry go before she wails into a clamorous Latin scat-fest on Charlie Parker's bop classic, "Billie's Bounce".

Sometimes it pays to pay attention to those bloodlines; Mayra Calidad Valdes's La Diosa del Mar introduces a great new voice to the Afro-Cuban Jazz scene.

Track Listing: Drume Negrita, Mambo Influencia, Danza Naniga, Besame Mucho, Yemaya, Para que Vuelvas, Bilie's Bounce, Danzonete, Como Fue, Rezo Afrocubano

Personnel: Mayra Calidad Valdes, vocals; Tony Perez, piano; Enrique Pia, drums; Jorge Reyes, bass; Irving Acao, sax; Yaroldy Abrue, percussion;Luis Guerra, keyboards

Title: La Diosa del Mar | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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