Winner of six Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards, the Cuban pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Chucho Valdés has been a key figure in the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz for the past 50 years. In 1972 Chucho released his fourth album, a trio recording with bass and bata drums entitled simply, Jazz Bata. This ten song exploration of the descarga roots of Cuban jazz was a departure from his first quintet recordings. It showcased not only his virtuosity but forged the path merging the rhythms of the sacred bata with jazz, signaling what was soon to take shape in his history making group, Irakere. Here today, more than 45 years later, in Chucho’s search to discover new ways to express the classic forms, he will tour the 2018-2019 season with bassist Yelsy Heredia and master drummer Dreiser Durruthy Bombalé.
Chucho’s musical education includes formal studies and countless nights on the best stages in Cuba as the pianist with his father, Bebo Valdés, and his orchestra Sabor de Cuba, and also the seminal Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna. In the early 70s, Chucho distilled his experiences into the foundation of Irakere, an ensemble that marked a before and after in Afro-Cuban jazz. Chucho was the director, pianist, main composer and arranger of Irakere for more than 30 years. But since 2005, he has focused on his personal career, highlighting his work as a pianist and leading small ensembles. His 2013 recording, Border-Free, finds Chucho at the top of his game, leading his Afro-Cuban Messengers, a spectacular quintet comprising yet another generation of young brilliant Cuban musicians, in a search that transcends styles and traditions. In conjunction with the U.S. tour in 2015, Chucho Valdés: Irakere 40 released Live at Marciac (Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi) recorded at the Jazz in Marciac festival in France.