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Going Latin Jazzing in New York

Chucho Valdes
Tag(s): Show host blog
Mario Bauza

Jelly Roll Justice is going to New York to catch the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis presenting “Jazz Meets Clave” (Thursday through Saturday, October 21st through the 23rd, in the Rose Theatre). Jelly Roll will then attend the “Smokin' Jazz Sessions of Chucho Valdés with The Afro-Cuban Messengers” (Friday and Saturday, October 22nd and 23rd in the Allen Room).
Chucho Valdés (born Jesús Dionisio Valdés in Quivicán, Cuba, October 9, 1941) is a true musical genius and statesman, the living embodiment of the history of Afro-Cuban jazz and a straight-ahead off the charts jazz pianist. He is famous for creating an entire salsa orchestra alone at the keyboard, full of fiery clavé rhythms, heart-stopping montuno passages, and breathtakingly romantic boleros. His father is the famed Cuban pianist and former director of Havana's famous "Tropicana" nightclub band Bebo Valdés.
Chucho has won three Grammy awards: one in 1978 for the album Live at Newport by his group Irakere, a second in 1998 for his contribution to the CD Havana by his band Crisol (formed in 1997), with two songs Mr. Bruce and Mambo para Roy written by Chucho, and the third in 2003 for his album Live at the Village Vanguard. In 2008 Sony released an album of Chucho playing with his father Bebo Valdés.
“Jazz Meets Clave” finds its genesis in the godfather of Afro-Cuban music, Mario Bauza (28 April 1911 – 11 July 1993), and his fellow countrymen Machito, Chano Pozo, and Cachao, who were the early innovators of Latin jazz incorporating American swing and bop. At the same time, they taught the great American artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker how to play the intricate polyrhythms of Cuba.
Bauzá, for example, had been hired as lead trumpeter and musical director for Chick Webb's Orchestra by 1933, and it was during his time with Webb that Bauzá both met fellow trumpeter Dizzie Gillespie and discovered and brought into the band singer Ella Fitzgerald. Bauzá joined Cab Calloway's band in 1938, later convincing Calloway to hire Dizzie Gillespie as well. The fusion of Bauzá's Cuban musical heritage and Gillespie's bebop culminated in the development of cubop --- a major form of Latin jazz. In 1941 Bauzá became musical director of Machito and his Afro-Cubans, a band led by his brother-in-law, Machito. Bauzá brought in a young timbales player named Tito Puente and continued to produce remarkable music for nearly a half century.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will explore the early breakthrough hits "Tanga” and “Manteca," the development of the mambo and the cha-cha-cha years later, and the enduring legacy of these explosive, technicolorful musical pioneers.

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