Mucho Chucho

14 Nov
Chucho Valdes [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Chucho Valdes [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

If you weren’t one of the mature and discerning audience (as my amiga Priscilla observed) at Berkelee’s excellent music venue on November 12, you missed an extraordinary musical happening, The Boston Celebrity Series’s presentation of Chucho Valdés: Irakere 40, featuring Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messengers.

People who know me will be surprised tp earn that I ventured forth fro, the friendly confines of my Wet Newton zipcode to the belly of the Beast at the periphery of Boston’s Back Bay and Fenway. On the other hand, people who are familiar with me and my life long cubanophilia will understand that such is my admiration for the great Chucho Valdes that were I to inhabit a graveyard I would move (heaven and) earth to attend a Chucho Valdes gig.

Chucho  & Irakere 40 [photo Robert Birnbaum]

Chucho & Irakere 40 [photo Robert Birnbaum]

Suffice it to say, that I was in attendance at the above referenced concert. The short of it is, Chucho and his aggregation of young players (the natural progeny of the group Chucho formed with Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera and Carlos Emilio Morales forty years ago—even a cursory knowledge of contemporary jazz will reveal the great musical contributions these great Cuban players have made to the world of music) played for two wonderful hours— only the greediest of fans could have asked for more. Chucho’s pianistic virtuosity is well known( watching his humungous two octave hands dancing back and forth across the key board of the grand piano is a great display of why the rubric ‘grand’ is attached to that august instrument. And his band’s *(three trumpets, one tenor and one alto sax, one percussionist, one conguero one drummer and a base player )talents were exhibited on extended solo after extended solo and contributed to an extraordinary cohesion (as in tight). And it,goes without saying, that is the essence of this music to be propulsive marked by a great fluidity—the parts were every bt as fresh and engaging as the whole.

As I spied veteran music writers Jon Garelick and Bill Beuttler in attendance, I expect they will weigh in with their observations and insights and include more specificity (set list etc) about this great concert.

Should you be interested in expanding your acquaintance with Chucho Valdes highly engaging website is here

And the 74 year old Chucho contextualizes his musical journey and recounts his life story

And (lucky you) there is a performance film of Valdes and his very talented aggregation

Wait, there’s more. Earlier this year Valdes joined with Michel Camillo and Gonzalo Rubalcaba (with the impassioned vocal support of divas Ana Belen, Omara Portuondo and Esperanza Fernánde)to pay tribute to the great Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. The result is a film and a recording entitled Playing Lecuona

Playing Lecuona with Chucho Valdés, Gonzolo Rubalcaba and Michel Camilo

Playing Lecuona with Chucho Valdés, Gonzolo Rubalcaba and Michel Camilo

* Irakere 40 Lineup
Gaston Joya -bass
Rodnet Barreto -trap drums
Yaroldy Abreu -hand drums and percussion
Dreiser Durruthy- batas and vocals
Manuel Machado -trumpet
Rena;do Melian -Trumpet
Carlos Sarduy -trumpet
Ariel Bringuez – tenor saxophone
Rafael Aguila – alto saxophone

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