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A live presentation of Afro-Cuban Jazz History Chucho Valdés - Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Blog
A live presentation of Afro-Cuban Jazz History Chucho Valdés - Gonzalo Rubalcaba

06.09.2017

Text: Haluk Damar

Translation: Yetkin Nural 

Illustration: Saydan Akşit

A Blue Note artist with 5 Grammy awards, founder of the most important Afro-Cuban jazz band Irakere, the creator of New York – Havana jazz line. But more important than everything else, the leader of Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, an orchestra that put the Cuban Jazz on the map… This is a small introductive summary, which can help us understand jazz legend Chucho Valdes’ position in jazz history.

Chuco Valdes is the son of Bebo Valdes, a central figure of Cuban  jazz who was responsible for all the arrangements of Cuba’s most important Latin jazz cabaret, Tropicana. Chuco Valdes is one of those rare musicians that needs specificity in definition. It is important to deem him a legendary musician who has affected the last 50 years of jazz, but this statement has a long explanation. This is why I think it is appropriate to talk about Irakere to understand Chuco Valdes.

Emerged towards the end of 1973, Irakere is also known as “blender” by jazz listeners. The reason for this nickname is the unique synthesis of European jazz and Kuban music that was created in the early 70’s. Even more so, these musicians were also inspired by funk, rock and African native music. Such a unique mixture of various references played an important role in the jazz history and could easily be seen as a revolution in Latin jazz.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, whose recordings of 1985 National Cuba Jazz Festival concert with legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie marked an unforgettable moment, is also a Blue Note musician, just like Valdes. He has accompanied many big names such as Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Charlie Haden; both in recording sessions and at concerts. Another important figure from Cuba is Rubalcaba, whose masterpiece is The Montreal Tapes album with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. The “Solar” track from the album, which is a Miles Davis track, showcases Rubalcaba’s talents to the fullest.

Apart from listening to a legend like Chuco Valdes live, who is probably the only name that can bring Afro-Cuban, Latin and Havana jazz together; witnessing the performance of Gonzalo Rubalcaba together with Valdes as two important representatives of different generations is what makes this upcoming performance very special. 

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