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 was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.