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
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.