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Bebo Valdes & Javier Colina: Live At The Village Vanguard

Mark Corroto By

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The comparison between pianists Bebo Valdés and his son Chucho Valdés could be likened to the choice of the Beatles (Bebo) to the Rolling Stones (Chucho). A more likely frame of reference would be Bebo as the Cuban version of Hank Jones and Chucho that of Don Pullen.

Like Jones, Bebo started as an accompanist, only to shine as a soloist in his later years. Now nearly 90, his music just seems to get better and better. This session is his recording at the Village Vanguard, the jazz mecca in New York. Accompanying Valdés is his favorite bassist, Javier Colina.

And like Jones, his simple charm and dignity is ever present in his music making. The lushness of his touch pervades this recording as the audience shows its enthusiasm throughout. He plays three originals, some pop covers, Cuban classics and the familiar jazz standards "Yesterdays" and "Waltz for Debby."

Playing his composition "Con Poco Coco," Valdés makes it clear that Cuban jazz is indeed a fusion of Latin, Caribbean, American jazz, and popular musics. It is all at once joyous and celebratory. When Colina takes up his bow to drop hints of "Old Devil Moon," Valdés retorts with "Salt Peanuts." And so it goes. The audience is encouraged to sing along with the pop tune "Bilongo." Here Valdés' playful side is revealed, as it is on the cha-cha'd "Ritmando el cha-cha-cha." If you ain't swaying in your seat, brother you must be dead.

The pair are well versed in classical Cuban music too. They deftly take on "Siboney" and "Analucia," almost—to repeat, almost—playing them straight. But then there is the boogie-woogie "Bebo's Blues" that turns Gershwin's "Rhapsody" into a Cuban blues, as well as his take on Bill Evans' "Waltz For Debby," which maintains the simplicity of the composition but swings it (with the clever pulse of Colina) with his immutable style. A beautiful recording, I wish I could have been there.

Track listing: Con Poco Coco; Sabor a Mi; Ritmando el Cha-Cha-Cha; Rosa Mustia; Andalucia; Siboney; Tres Palabras; Aquellos Ojos Verdes; Bilongo; Si Te Contara; Bebo's Blues; Yesterdays; Manisero; Waltz for Debby.

Track Listing: Con Poco Coco; Sabor a Mi; Ritmando el Cha-Cha-Cha; Rosa Mustia; Andalucia; Siboney; Tres Palabras; Aquellos Ojos Verdes; Bilongo; Si Te Contara; Bebo's Blues; Yesterdays; Manisero; Waltz for Debby.

Personnel: Bebo Valdés: piano; Javier Colina: bass.

Title: Live At The Village Vanguard | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Calle 54 Records

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