When Valdés jammed with B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco aboard SFJAZZ’s Jazz Cruise last year, there were fireworks. The two maestros played “Stella By Starlight,” “Autumn Leaves” and “Blue Monk.” There was an electric connection between these two virtuoso players who share a common approach – a soulful approach, informed by both the conservatory and the street. For Valdés, it became a no-brainer: He had to invite DeFrancesco to SFJAZZ for this special program, which pairs the DeFrancesco with the Cuban pianist’s incendiary, percussion-rich combo, Jazz Batá 2.
Like Valdés, DeFrancesco matured early as a musician: He sat in with saxophonist Hank Mobley when he was 10. He joined Miles Davis’s band at age 17 and he went on to perform with Ray Charles, John McLaughlin, Elvin Jones and so many others. Plus, he became a protégé of the great Jimmy Smith; no wonder DeFrancesco can make the B-3 growl. He can make it sound like an orchestra. And he can go to town with the B-3’s percussive effects, so you can expect more fireworks when he connects with Valdés and Jazz Batá 2.
About Chucho Valdés
The greatest living Cuban pianist and a singular force in Cuban music for more than half a century, eight-time GRAMMY winner piano virtuoso Chucho Valdés celebrates his week as 2019 SFJAZZ Gala honoree and Resident Artistic Director with Irakere 45, the new iteration of the legendary band that changed the course of Latin music in the 1970s and 80s. Valdés was already recognized as the most formidable pianist of his generation when he launched Irakere in 1973 with a phenomenal cast that included saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. Discovered and introduced internationally by Dizzy Gillespie, the band’s unprecedented synthesis of ritualistic Afro-Cuban percussion, post-bop improvisation, European classical music, rock, R&B, and jazz opened up vast new frontiers, and helped pave the way for the pervasively popular dance music known as timba.
Chucho Valdés piano
Joey DeFrancesco B3 Hammond organ
Ramón Vazquez Martirena bass
Yaroldy Abrey Robles drums
Dreiser Durruthy Bambelé batá & vocals