CHUCHO VALDÉS QUINTET
Swasey Chapel | 8pm
The New York Times calls Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés’ concerts “such a controlled detonation of music that it kicks down your defenses.” They refer to him as a “pianist of imperial command.” In fact, most critics seem to be surprised that after a lifelong career, he still surprises them. Hailed as “one of the world’s great virtuosic pianists” by the Times, eight-time Grammy Award winner Valdés has recorded more than 80 CDs, performing with countless jazz masters, including Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and Chick Corea. Last here in 2002, this will be Valdés’ second Vail appearance.
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Chucho was born into an environment saturated with music. His father, Bebo Valdés was legendary in the golden age of music in Cuba—he led the house band for the Tropicana Club in the 1950s, recorded with Nat King Cole, and helped invent the batanga, a rhythmic dance that competed with the mambo. He also hosted many America jazz musicians and others from around Cuba when they came to play in Havana. Chucho absorbed these disparate influences from a very young age (he began playing piano at age 3), and used his experience and raw talent to graduate from the Municipal Music Conservatory of Havana at 14, rounding out his education with Cuban music, classical, and American jazz from Coltrane to Oscar Peterson.
Bebo Valdés left Cuba for the U.S. before the embargo, leaving Chucho at home. However, Chucho continued to pursue music as he could, starting his own jazz trios that played in hotels around Havana, and eventually forming Irakere, a Latin Jazz super group that earned international acclaim. In keeping with his accomplishments, Chucho was the first post-embargo artist to be recorded in the U.S., and that turned into a long career with the prestigious Blue Note label, among others. He continues to record now, including “Chucho’s Steps,” a collaboration with his son Chuchito, and “Juntos Para Siempre,” an album with his father.
Six decades in music gives Chucho Valdés a rhythmic complexity and an allusive style that allows his technical excellence an unlimited space. To Chucho, jazz is “freedom, made into music.” Join the Vail Series for a expansive concert by a veritable old master of jazz. You don’t even need a visa.