Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messengers
Even in a country with a grand tradition of virtuosic pianists, Chucho Valdés stands alone, a towering figure who combines the sheer power of McCoy Tyner with the dexterity of Oscar Peterson and a rhythmic sensibility steeped in the intricacies of Afro-Cuban culture. The conservatory-trained son of Cuban music icon Bebo Valdés and an eight-time Grammy winner, Chucho has spent much of his career in the vanguard of the Latin music. As a co-founder of the seminal ensemble Irakere with Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval, he forged an unprecedented synthesis of ritualistic Afro-Cuban percussion, post-bop improvisation, European classical music, rock and R&B. More recently he’s stepped forward to stake an indisputable claim as jazz’s most imposing pianist. Starting with 1998’s Blue Note CD Bele Bele En La Havana, he’s released a series of ever more astonishing albums under his own name, most recently 2013’s Border-Free, an electrifying session featuring his talent-laden Afro-Cuban Jazz Messengers.