In a joint statement released March 23rd, The Recording Academy and The Latin Recording Academy in the United States provided additional details about the accomplishments of great Cuban musician Bebo Valdés, wo passed away on March 22, 2013. “Three-time GRAMMY and six-time Latin GRAMMY winner Bebo Valdés was a renowned pianist, composer, bandleader, and musical director who made major contributions to two of the most recognized movements in Cuban music: Big Band and Latin Jazz. Beginning his career in Havana in the ’40s, his orchestra, Sabor de Cuba, became a mainstay at the internationally known Tropicana nightclub,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.
“During this time he would become a giant of mambo, creating his own rhythmic style known as batanga. In the late ’50s, his love of jazz would become his second trademark, working with the legendary Nat King Cole on his album Cole Español.
He defected from Cuba in 1960 to pursue his musical career, and made Sweden his official home. He relaunched his career in the ’90s with his first release in more than 30 years, Bebo Rides Again, and 10 years later he collaborated with Spanish singer-songwriter Diego El Cigala on Lagrimas Negras, earning him his first Latin GRAMMY in 2004 for Best Traditional Tropical Album.
In 2009, he and his son, pianist Chucho Valdés, released Juntos Para Siempre, which won a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Award. A true native son of Cuba, his legacy and contributions to its musical heritage will forever be remembered. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and to the fans of this incomparable musician’s indelible achievements.”
Read World Music Central’s obituary of Bebo Valdés