Afro-Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdés is one of Cuba’s most renowned jazz musicians.
His illustrious career began in the 70s, leading the famed jazz outfit Irakere (whose members also include Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera), but as the son of legendary pianist and bandleader, Bebo, Valdés has Cuban jazz in the blood.
In addition to cultivating a swift, fluid technique throughout his 40-year career, Valdés is also credited with furthering the flow of information between U.S. musicians and their Cuban counterparts. His musical sensibility, perhaps logically, also reflects this cross-cultural flow. Compositions on Valdés’s most recent album, 2010’s Chucho’s Steps - a nod to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” as well as a backwards glance at his own musical pilgrimage - draws from New Orleans jazz and Afro-Cuban religious music.
On Saturday night, Valdés takes another step in a familiar direction. His Carnegie Hall performance marks his return to that distinguished stage following his 1978 debut with Irakere. Joining Valdés and his quartet, the Afro-Cuban Messengers, is the Spanish singer Buika.
Download “Yansá,” from Valdés’s Grammy award-winning album Chucho’s Steps, above.
In the video below, Buika and Valdés perform “Se Me Hizo Facil,” a bolero made famous by Chavela Vargas, from their 2009 album honoring the legendary Mexican singer.