Sunday, May 4, 2008

Chucho Valdes

The tunes on the Chucho Valdes release under the Bele Bele Jazz Club label range in dynamic from Charlie Brown soundtrack to classical Hallmark card ad to the more familiar and forgiving Latin Jazzy Salsa beat. This sounds right about where Mr. Valdes is in his career right now, having played a long time and built a loyal following, he sounds about ready to showcase his playing styles.

This is recording is definitely that and any fan of the legendary Latin jazz band Irakere would be wise to take a listen. Mr. Valdes is not just a skilled bandleader he is also the founder of the Latin Jazz band Irakere who are one of Cuba’s most respected and well known jazz bands.

The eponymous release first was released in 2005 and is heavily piano saturated which is Mr. Valdes instrument of choice. He plays it with a skilled hand; one part deliberate Debussy, one part cheerful Chopin, one part glorious Gershwin, and the more dominant remainder which is fully and completely his own. It is more the complex arrangements and jazzy accompaniments which help set this recording apart from comparison and make this record a true individual.

Heralded in the liner notes to the album as “an amalgam of genuinely post-modern recordings by the celebrated Cuban pianist.” The tracks which are put together for this recording span a life’s work; some of these go back as early as 1970 with the latest being recorded in the late 1980’s.

Still actively performing at the ripe old age of 90 in 2008, Chucho Valdes is a three time Grammy award winner and is still one of Cuba’s most well known and respected pianists. Though he had begun playing piano at the age of three, Mr. Valdes did not waste any time establishing himself as a skilled bandleader as he found himself leader of a band at the age of sixteen. Definitely worth a listen for any fan of world music, this current Chucho Valdes release is certainly something you should check out.

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