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Jazz - Released May 6, 2013 | Jazz Village

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Sélection FIP - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS - The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | EMI Music Canada

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
If Blue Note's alert microphones were present at Chucho Valdés's historic 1998 debut at the hallowed Village Vanguard, the results haven't officially landed in our CD machines yet. But the mikes were there, alright, the following year -- and they caught some virulent Cuban tempests (as the announcer warns, accurately, "There's a hurricane approaching from the Caribbean"). Yet the heat was turned up so much on Valdés's previous studio albums that the presence of a live audience only increases the temperature slightly here. Once again, Valdés's command of the keyboard is so technically staggering as to be stupefying, and he liberally throws in quotes from just about everything he ever absorbed -- from Chopin and Debussy to the Gershwins, Cecil Taylor and avant-garde strumming of the piano strings. He has so powerful an individual identity that "To Bud Powell" is more about Chucho than the late bop pianist. Yet the best, most fun track on the CD, "Punto Cubano," gives credence to the old saw about less being more. Built mostly around a simple tonic-dominant vamp; it has a Jarrett-like directness of melody and irresistible swing, though Chucho still isn't loath to turn on the big guns when desired. The long-running rhythm section of Francisco Rubio Pampin (bass), Raúl Pineda Roque (drums), and Roberto Vizcaino Guillót (congas), keeps Chucho all stoked up and steaming throughout the set. Also Valdés's sister, Mayra Caridad, lends a husky Miriam Makeba-sized voice to the not-so-peaceful lullaby "Drume Negrita." This is yet another excellent addition to the distinguished line of eventful Village Vanguard live sessions, brought to you through the politically neutral resources of EMI Music Canada. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 16, 2018 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Music Canada

Although pianist Chucho Valdés starts things off with a precise and danceable interpretation of Ernesto Lecuona's "La Comparsa" on New Conceptions, the classical and operatic themes explored on 2002's Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes are largely implied this time around. Valdés is a superb classically trained technician with a lush ear for harmony. This, combined with an expansive knowledge of the jazz "tradition," allows him to craft solos that often touch on both late-era John Coltrane and the elegant athleticism of Art Tatum. He brings all sides to bear here on works by Miles Davis and Duke Ellington as well as some original compositions. Notably, the original ballad "Nanu" finds Valdés mixing Claude Debussy-like impressionism with Tatum-like blues runs against a plaintive cello solo from Maylin Sevila. Similarly, he turns Davis' "Solar" into a post-bop, Latin-style inferno featuring the explosive tenor sax of Irving Luichel Acao Tierra. Most impressive though may be his original mix of swing and Afro-Cuban rhythm patterns on "Sin Clave Pero Con Swing," in which, by moving from bop to blues to descarge to bolero, he deftly disproves the long-standing misconception that Afro-Cuban jazz must be played with a clave. By at once respecting and defying musical tradition, Valdés has crafted one of the most accomplished and invigorating albums of his career. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Latin Jazz - Released May 15, 2015 | Okeh

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Jazz - Released March 4, 2016 | Jazz Village

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Latin Jazz - Released August 26, 2010 | world village

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World - Released September 9, 1978 | Montuno Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | EMI

Chucho Valdés comes roaring out of the jewel box again with a stupefying demonstration of piano technique and musical sense allied with a hot-as-sun Cuban rhythm team. In sync with North American preoccupations in 1998 and 1999, this album spends a good deal of time commemorating the centenaries of the Gershwins and Duke Ellington. "Caravan" is given a super-convoluted Afro-Cuban treatment, while "Embraceable You" is unabashedly sentimental and the mambo break in "Rhapsody in Blue" could have come out of a 1956 Havana casino. The rest of the CD is devoted to various Valdés originals where the pianist's eclectic antennae pull in some unexpected signals. The cooking "El Rumbón" may mean "The Party" but the melody is closely related to, of all things, "You Are My Sunshine," and "Bolero" has a reminiscence of Chopin in the solo section. The rhythm section (Francisco Rubio Pampin, bass; Raúl Piñeda Roque, drums; Roberto Vizcaino Guillót, congas) consistently charges up Valdés, though this time the pianist's work does betray a bit of slickness here and there. Joaquin Olivero Gavilón adds some authentic Cuban wooden flute to "Rhapsody" and there are incantory voices on the title track. Again, this disc had to go through insane political contortions for its U.S. release, as it was recorded in Havana, it was released through the auspices of EMI Music Canada -- but at least we have it. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | EMI Music Canada

Following up on 2000's ensemble tour de force Live at the Village Vanguard, Blue Note issued this album by Cuban sensation Chucho Valdés -- a solo concert recorded live in 1998 at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse in New York. Listening to the great pianist in an unaccompanied setting, one is struck not only by his formidable technique but also by the huge sound he gets out of the instrument. His versatility is also something to behold: Valdés has the delicate touch of a jazz pianist, the rhythmic heart of a Latin master, the velocity and technical resources of a classical virtuoso. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Besame Mucho" are the only cuts that will be easily recognized by American listeners. The rest are Latin themes by composers such as César Portillo de la Luz ("Delirio"), José Antonio Mendez ("Novia Mia"), and Antonio Maria Romeu ("Tres Lindas Cubanas"). Valdés also contributes two of his own: "A Mi Madre," a beautiful ballad that segues into a rousing vamp-based section, and "Rumba Guajira," a lively Latin tune with pronounced elements of gospel harmony. © David R. Adler /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | EMI

Issued just after his landmark two-week June 1998 gig at the Village Vanguard and subsequent U.S./Canada tour, Chucho Valdés' first album for Blue Note bears out a lot of the hype surrounding this hugely gifted Cuban pianist. Unlike many of today's younger Cuban keyboard hotshots, Valdés not only has great technical chops and musical erudition, he manages to stay closely tied to his Cuban rhythmic roots. Thus, he employs a Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaino Guillot along with the standard bass (Alain Pérez Rodriguez) and drums (Raúl Píñeda Roque), which dramatically increases the possibilities for rhythmic experiments. Valdés more often than not is all over the keyboard, comfortable with everything from Ravel-ian classical complexity to Bill Evans' introspection to Cecil Taylor-like crunches. But there are surprisingly few wasted motions; all of the notes fit. He creates tremendous excitement on "Con Poco Loco" (which ends with a sly steal from "Giant Steps"), and suddenly breaks into a cornucopia of European stream-of-consciousness fireworks before returning to Cuba on "Son Montuno." However, the best moments on Bele Bele en La Habana come when Valdés hooks his fire-eating technique into the groove and doesn't let go. "El Cumbanchero" contains some sudden rhythmic shifts that will have you leaping out of your chair, and "Tres Lindas Cubanas" gradually builds a great head of steam. This CD will give you a much better idea of Valdés' pianistic capabilities than any of his records with Irakere. On a political level, it is interesting and disheartening to note that Valdés recorded this album in Toronto under the auspices of EMI Music Canada; a direct signing with Blue Note would have exposed the American company to charges of trading with the enemy. Obviously, as of 1998, the Cold War was not completely over. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 10, 1979 | Legacy Recordings

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Jazz - Released October 1, 2004 | Messidor

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Blue Note Records

The leader and founder of Irakere, Chucho Valdes is also a brilliant pianist who may be on the same level of Gonzalo Rubalcaba. He has a very impressive classical technique and is able to hint at such players as McCoy Tyner, Lennie Tristano, and Cecil Taylor without watering down his Cuban heritage. This dazzling set covers a lot of ground with highlights, including "Blue Yes" (which is based on the chords of Charlie Parker's "Confirmation"), a sensitive Bill Evans tribute, and several nearly free explosions. Despite the CD's title, the final two of the ten selections add bass, drums, and percussion, and feature Valdes closely interacting with and pushing his sidemen. Highly recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | EMI Music Canada

As one of Cuba's greatest Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz pianists and long an important bandleader, Jesús Chucho Valdés has earned international renown and a devoted audience of jazz fans. However, the imaginative composer and virtuosic improviser does not waiver from his ability to interpret acknowledged classics. Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes demonstrates this attribute and reveals Chucho Valdés in peak form. He pays homage to Ernesto Lecuona, the concert pianist and founder of the Havana Symphony who is generally recognized as the most important Cuban musician of the first half of the 20th century. The recording includes 14 compositions with three completely different takes of "Chopin: Three Faces of Lecuona: La Comparsa." Valdés, who performs in a solo setting on this recording, also plays a set of colorful, gentle originals, including "Sunrise," the title track, "La Campesina," and a very percussive "Wakamba." His mastery of polyrhythms is remarkable and his wonderful variations on classical themes uplift the music to how the original composers might enjoy them or change them to reflect the impact of the 21st century. These songs are also a powerful tribute to the enormous influence of Zenaida Romeu (who taught him classical piano) and his North American jazz pianist influences, McCoy Tyner and Oscar Peterson. © Paula Edelstein /TiVo
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Latin America - Released June 1, 1996 | Velas

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Jazz - Released September 9, 2010 | Montuno Records

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Latin America - Released January 28, 2013 | Latin Beat Records

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Latin America - Released November 1, 2007 | Epsa Music

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Latin America - Released November 30, 2018 | Legacy Recordings

Irakere came on the scene in the late '70s with a style of Latin jazz that incorporated soaring jazz brass with quite traditional Cuban rhythms, punctuated by electric guitars and a funky bass. In the years since, Irakere music has been characterized by a hot jazz sound with a very danceable beat. Babalu Ayé closes a circle of sorts for Irakere. Most of the songs on this album are salsa Cubana, some sounding very much like the original New York salsa of years past. But of course, it's salsa with the Irakere flair: electric guitars with the distortion cranked up come in and out; the horn section plays tightly, then loosens considerably in the solos, putting a few relaxed ornaments around each phrase, then suddenly tightens up again; the whole band chants phrases in unison. Then after plenty of straight-ahead salsa Cubana, the CD ends with a mighty rhumba. Lazaro Ros, accompanied by bata drums, a coro singing responses, and the occasional Irakere instrumental, sings the story of healer Babalu Ayé, taking us back to the African traditions that still live on in Cuba, perhaps more strongly than in any other African-based community in the Americas. Irakere has always stayed close to their Afro-Cuban roots. Now on Babalu Ayé they also pay homage to another, much more urban source of the Irakere sound. This CD provides a very satisfying picture of the contrasts that make Afro-Latin music so rich. © Bruce Ishikawa /TiVo

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Chucho Valdés in the magazine
  • From Father to Son
    From Father to Son Chucho Valdés and Arturo O’Farrill celebrate the art of Bebo Valdés and Chico O’Farrill…