It wouldn’t have mattered less if Mayra Caridad Valdés did not come with impeccable connections. She is the sister of Chucho and the daughter of Bebo. Them musical genes have sure gone around!
Valdés studied music in Cuba and it was here that Harry Belafonte heard her sing and asked her to join him in his concerts. She later joined Irakere and also appeared with Chucho and can be heard on his album Live At The Village Vanguard.
Valdés has a remarkable voice. She carries a melody with fluidity, ever at ease with the emotion. She does not let the moment escape, and delves into intense involvement that serves to distinguish the dimension of her voice.
Each song has its own niche but it is Danza Ñáñiga that captures the breadth of her imagination. Starting out as a ballad she introduces a gently swinging scat that later breaks loose in abandon as it bridges the verses of the song. And it is all so seamless!
Scat becomes her as evidenced in the coruscating Billie’s Bounce that charges high spiritedly, and on the exultant Mambo Influenciado where the title says it all. Away from this are the incipient beauty of the romantic Como Fue , a lilting melody and a heartfelt reading of the lyric. The album would be incomplete without a nod to folk music and this is becomingly exemplified in Rezo Afrocubano , where voices are raised in chant.
While Valdés casts her spell, her musicians are as excellent a band as anyone could wish for. They interweave with the vocals, adding to the passion of the song, making it all the more dynamic.
Track Listing: Drume Negrita; Mambo Influenciado; Danza
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.