Valdes and violinist Regina Carter are exquisite musicians who transcend genres. Friends for years, their collaboration at SFJAZZ is a natural, building upon Carter’s passionate guest performances on Valdés’ 2018 album, Jazz Batá 2. The recording, like the band itself, offers a grand synthesis: Seamlessly, it combines the Yoruban liturgical music of West Africa with popular Cuban dance rhythms and jazz.
A generation younger than Valdés, Carter, a native of Detroit, has followed a similar path, connecting the dots between Motown and Mali. She “taps into a broad musical vocabulary to weave new sound tapestries,” says the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded her a “genius” award in 2006, and she “is pioneering new possibilities for the violin and for jazz.” Carter’s muse has led her from European classical music to bebop, Southern blues and Afro-Cuban folk forms. That’s why Valdés – who calls her “a genius of the violin” – asked her to record with him on Jazz Batá 2. She performs on the album’s centerpiece tracks: “100 Anos de Bebo (100 Years of Bebo),” a danzon-mambo tribute to his father, and “Ochun,” which evokes the Yoruban orisha.
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
Regina Carter violin
Ramón Vazquez Martirena bass
Yaroldy Abrey Robles drums
Dreiser Durruthy Bambelé batá & vocals