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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 love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.