Chucho Valdés – La magia del latin Jazz

Jun 22, 2019


Chucho Valdes´music runs through his blood. His mother was a piano teacher and singer, while his father, Bebo Valdes, carved out for itself a place in Cuban music. Son of these parents it was impossible that Chucho was not anything other than a musician.

In the small town of Quivicán, Mayabeque province, was born Dionidio Jesus “Chucho” Valdes Rodriguez on 9th October 1941. With just three years-old, he was able to play on the piano melodies that he had heard on the radio. With both hands and any tune!

His musical training was luxury, having among his teachers Zenaida Romeu, Rosario Franco and Leo Brouwer.

A musical prodigy made in Cuba

While still a child he attended presentations of glories as Nat King Cole, Erroll Garner and Sarah Vaughan. His career began early at age 15, when he formed his first trio to play jazz. Shortly after, he began playing in Havana hotels, including the Deauville and St. John.

Chucho Valdes joined the orchestra of his father, Sabor de Cuba, in 1959. This was a unique experience in their training: he met Cuban music luminaries as Pio Leyva and Fernando Alvarez. From his father he learned about music from all America, especially jazz.

The year 1960 gave Chucho’s life a tremendous turn when his father, while touring in Europe, decided not to return to Cuba. Despite the absence of his mentor, Chucho Valdes made for himself a space in the Havana music scene. But certainly, it is 1973 when Chucho takes the decisive step in his career by founding Irakere, with stars like Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera.

Three years after Dizzy Gillespie discovers Irakere and leads the United States tour. The first album won a 1979 a Grammy Award. In 1997 he repeated as Grammy winner as member of the Crisol Orchestra, conducted by the American guitarist Ray Hargrove. At that time he started some projects parallel to Irakere, to explore his skills as a pianist.

Irakere activity reached until 2005, when Chucho decided to start a solo career. The last years of the band were very successful, receiving two Latin Grammy (2002, 2004) and a Grammy (2000). His solo work went sky rocket. Inside it highlights is the album Juntos por Siempre, recorded with his father Bebo Valdes.

In this recording father and son met, dispelling any doubts about their good personal and musical relationship. This is evidenced by the Grammy Award and Latin Grammy Chucho and Bebo Valdés won. Chucho’s genius cannot only be measured by his awards, which are several; or their albums, which are many. The greatest recognition of its quality has been his collaborations with musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea or Tito Puente.

Undoubtedly, Chucho Valdes is one of those unique figures, result of the musicality that runs in the Havana streets.

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