Cuban Disc Fair Pays Tribute to Chucho Valdés and Irakere

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Irakere, the most famous Cuban jazz
band and the world´s first inserting Afro-Cuban sounds into jazz, was paid
tribute to at the Cubadisco 2004 Music Fair that concludes May 30. The Amadeo
Roldán Theater was chosen for the first gala of the most important recording
event in Cuba, with the group of
, Carlos Emilio, Enrique Pla and Cesar
Lopez celebrating their 30th anniversary. Cubadisco Jury President Roberto
Valera praised the transcendental group, founded in 1973. Irakere was the first
Cuban Grammy award winner, back in 1982, and a school that formed many talents
throughout the years. The repertoire of the night showed Irakere´s core:
Habanera, blues, timba, folk chants, guaracha, son… Moreover, in memorable
forays with great solos by alto sax player Cesar Lopez, the “new Irakere,”
performed with gusto and played “guajira,” a Cuban genre used for the first time
by the band with “Latin jazz flavor.”

Chucho, a maestro from head to toe,
presented several virtuoso youths to the audience, including Yaroldi Abreu on
the congas, Lazaro Rivero (bass) and Maykel Gonzalez (trumpet), the latter a
product of the Jojazz festivals for young musicians. Lyrical and spiritual,
Irakere singer Mayra Caridad Valdes is one of Cuba´s best, not only for her
solid music background and her powerful voice, but also thanks to the
originality of her performances. Irakere came to life out of an old idea of
Chucho´s father, pianist Bebo Valdes, who experimented for the first time in the
early 50´s with Bata drums of the Yoruba and Arara ethnic groups, along with no
less than the great Benny More and Generoso Jimenez. Chucho Valdes´
extraordinarily sharp ear pushed him to take the lead, joined by Oscar Valdes,
Jorge “El Niño” Alfonso, Armando Cuervo and other percussionists, to attain the
distinctive Irakere sound, exemplified in dance songs such as “Bacalao con pan”
or subtle, innovative songs like “Chaka Zulu.” Irakere´s “new percussion”
elements not only saved the band from being just another jazz group, but also
gave it an everlasting trademark.

[Buy chucho Valdes’ CDs
New Conceptions
Solo Piano
Briyumba Palo Congo
Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes
Afrocubanismo Live!

Bele Bele en La Habana

Live at the Village Vanguard
Babalu Ayé
, and
(with Omara Portuondo,

Solo: Live in New York


Unforgettable Boleros

Live in Cuba

Cuban Jazz Pianissimo


En Vivo
(with Irakere and Ivan Lins),

, and

Canciones Inéditas

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.