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Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera: The Planets

Read "The Planets" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Cuban-born pianist Manuel Valera is not unknown to jazz-heads who make it their business to listen and champion. But, since his acclaimed 2004 debut Forma Nueva, a couple of Grammy nods, and last year's quietly brilliant The Seasons, Valera's name and exciting blend of culture, tradition, and progression has spread deservedly like wildfire through the larger audience. The Planets ramps up the forward rate of spread. Ranging fiercely across the 88s like peak McCoy Tyner--fanciful, fluid chromatic runs ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera Trio: The Seasons

Read "The Seasons" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Offering his twelfth recording as a leader, Grammy-nominated pianist Manuel Valera unveils a dynamic session of modern jazz on the vibrant The Seasons and follow up to Live at Firehouse 12 (MAVO Records, 2015). The album also happens to be the second date with his current working trio of jazz luminaries' bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer E.J. Strickland providing one of the most powerful piano trios in the jazz world today. The main theme of the session is the four-part ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera & Groove Square: Urban Landscape

Read "Urban Landscape" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Cuban keyboardist and composer Manuel Valera presented last with a scorching trio set Live at Firehouse 12 (Mayo Records, 2015). Acoustic and organic, Valera demonstrated is bona fides with mainstream jazz performance. Bringing drummer E.J. Strickland from that and earlier bands, Valera moves into a new project with a new band, Groove Square. He adds the ubiquitous bassist John Benite to the mix making for a solid rhythm section for Valera to compose and perform over. Decidedly adult contemporary, Urban ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera Trio: Live at Firehouse 12

Read "Live at Firehouse 12" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Leader of the Latin jazz-styled group New Cuban Express, New York-based, Cuban-born pianist Manuel Valera, unveils his 10th album as leader and his first recording in a live setting with the untypically non-Latin Live at Firehouse 12, his first trio format release in six years. This, very excellent trio features jazz luminaries Hans Glawischnig on bass and veteran EJ Strickland on the drums--all together forming one solid power threesome. Recorded at the renowned New Haven, CT club, Firehouse 12, a ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera Trio: Live at Firehouse 12

Read "Live at Firehouse 12" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Cuban pianist Manuel Valera readily extends the jazz language of his predecessors Bebo and Chucho Valdes. He is comfortable leading all band formats from septets (In Motion (Criss Cross, 2014) to solo performance (Self Portrait (Self Produced, 2014). Valera may presently be found fronting an exceptional trio performing Live at Firehouse 12. Orchestral or symphonic best describes Valera's pianism. His command of the complete keyboard; his ability to effect emotive arrangements with cogent beginnings, middles, and ends; ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera: Self Portrait

Read "Self Portrait" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

On Self Portrait, Grammy-nominated pianist Manuel Valera's first solo piano outing, the artist displays a supple and exquisite touch on his instrument, reflecting the erudition and precision of his classical background. This is worth saying right off because Valera is best known for his vivacious Latin jazz ensemble outings, New Cuban Express (Mavo Records, 2012) and Expectivas (Mavo Records, 2013). On this introspective set, Valera explores his classical influences with nods to Eric Satie, George Gershwin and Nicoloas ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Manuel Valera: Self Portrait

Read "Self Portrait" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Pianist Manuel Valera's New Cuban Express has pulled into the station for a pit stop, his band mates have stepped off the train to stretch their legs, and the conductor of said locomotive is now left to ponder his own existence in front of his controls. Such is the story that could be told to detail and dance around this pivotal point in Valera's career: the creation and release of his first solo piano record. Valera--a Cuban-born, ...


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