Trailblazing Cuban Spirit

Chucho Valdés

Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito (Yemayá Records, 2002)

Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito would be an easy fit into any jazz enthusiast’s collection, but there shouldn’t be any mistake that this latest CD by the celebrated pianist Chucho Valdés is infused with a light and breezy Cuban aura. Fans will delight in the trailblazing spirit these twenty tracks possess taken from recordings in 1970s and 80s. While these recordings might belong to an earlier phase of his career, they map out the organic Cuba in Mr. Valdes’s version of Latin jazz.

The easy flow of resplendent playing by Valdes , percussionist Enrique Pia, bassist Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, flautists Jose Luis Cortes and German Velasco and bassist Carlos del Puerto on these recordings delicately intermingle that unmistakable Cuban sound with jazz. Relying heavily on works by composer Jesús Valdes (Chucho’s real name), along with offerings by Moisés Simons, Osvaldo Urrutia, José A. Mendez and C. Portillo de la Luz, Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito is masterful, if not a little sentimental to the 1940s popular Cuban sound.

Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito is packed with goodies like the powerful opening piano piece "El Manisero," artfully played by Mr. Valdes. Other goodies include "Dos Perlas y Un Dolor" with Enrique Pia and Cachaito, the stupendous "La Sombra" and the richly smooth "Cancion de la Tarde." There’s a spicy version of Bobby Hebb’s "Sunny" entitled "Sony" that really swings. Other favorites are the sweetly elegant "Evocacion a Ignacio Cervantes" and partner piece "Evocacion a Manuel Saumell." Tracks taken from later recordings that include the "Evocacions" and the plummy "Desde Longina" mark a different feel from the first twelve tracks in that they reflect a more solitary, sentimental Valdes.

It takes only one listen to Chucho Valdés to understand the depth and range of his inventiveness and ingenuity. The Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito is overflowing with Chucho Valdés‘s opulent classics and meditative interpretations and simply wonderful. 

Buy Chucho Valdes Featuring Cachaito

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.