One senses a kinship between Valdés and saxophonist Kenny Garrett: the love of the drum, the deep African roots, the ability to elevate the music and practically take listeners into a trance state. Each can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck; when they perform together, as on this special program, the music is bound to intensify. These are two master musicians who know how to summon the spirits. It was inevitable that they would find each other; over the past several years, Valdés and Garrett have performed together at a number of European festivals. This night, they bring their fiery collaboration to SFJAZZ.
As a young player in Cuba, Valdés listened to Art Blakey and Freddie Hubbard, to McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, to Earth Wind & Fire and electric Miles Davis. Garrett, 20 years younger than Valdes, spent five formative years with Davis during the trumpeter’s late electric period. He also played with Blakey, Hubbard, Tyner and Jones – and his soulful cry on the saxophone owes something to his love of R&B, soul and funk, as epitomized by Earth, Wind & Fire. He and Valdés are virtuoso musicians with open ears. As bandleaders, each is habitually on the lookout for the freshest young talents.
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
Kenny Garrett alto & soprano saxophones
Ramón Vazquez Martirena bass
Yaroldy Abrey Robles drums
Dreiser Durruthy Bambelé batá & vocals