Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers
@ the Barbican Centre
18 Novemer 2010 - November 2008
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Chucho Valdés’ musical career began at the age of
three, in 1944. Master pianist Bebo Valdés, his father, was
also his first teacher. Being a renowned pianist, bandleader and
composer, Bebo brought the young Jesus to the attention of such
greats as singer Beny Moré and composer/pianist Ernesto Lecuona.
Other teachers included Zenaida Romeu and Rosario Franco. By the
time he was 16, Valdés had formed his first jazz trio, and
two years later had two albums under his belt for RCA Victor. In
1965, he became a part of the Elio Reve Orchestra, moving on in
1967 to co-found the well-received Orquesta de Musica Moderna. By
the end of the decade, Valdés had developed a distinctive
style both as a pianist and a composer.
For 25 years, Valdés has been musical director of Irakere,
the Grammy-winning band he co-founded to play both Afro-Cuban mainstream
music as well as Latin jazz. Thanks to Irakere, we enjoy the sound
of African bata drums, chekere and a uniquely flavoured mix of jazz
with songo rhythms. The album, Yemaya on EMI/Blue Note, celebrates
the further development of this style. Produced by Valdés
and Rene Lopez (who produced Bele Bele), the pianist contributes
songs and arrangements that envelop the listener in a tantalizing
swirl of dance rhythms and melodies, grooves and jams.
To date Valdés has won five Grammy awards for his recorded
material. He has toured more than fifty countries and worked with
other giants of music such as Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Carlos
Santana, Branford & Winton Marsalis, Grover Washington, Dizzy
Gillespie, Chick Korea and Jack DeJonnette to name but a few.