Chucho Valdés Honors Father Bebo With a Cuban Jazz Masterpiece

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The 2018 Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement honoree and his highly effective band previewed the brand new album "Jazz Batá 2" on the Barcelona Jazz Festival.

Chucho Valdés’ opening live performance at Barcelona’s Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival celebrated each his new album, Jazz Batá 2, and the centennial of the start of his father, Bebo Valdés. Near the top of the present, the famend Cuban pianist -- who will obtain a Lifetime Achievement Award throughout a non-public ceremony earlier than subsequent week’s Latin Grammys -- was encircled by his musicians onstage. Wearing a Kangol cap and silk scarf that complemented his print shirt, the towering Valdés stepped away from the keys to affix the band in a jubilant dance that traced the steps of African non secular ritual’s journey into widespread Cuban music.

In the middle of this on-stage rumba had been the batá of the album’s title, a set of three progressively-sized two-headed drums that had been being performed collectively by one musician, Dreiser Durruthy Bombalé.

“It’s a singular sound,” says Bombalé, 41, who started studying the secrets and techniques of the batá at a younger age in Cuba. He stresses that he's nonetheless studying. “The batá may be very conversational,” he tells Billboard of the hour-glassed formed drums, which play the rhythms used to name the pantheon of Afro-Cubans gods in ceremonies of the faith generally referred to as Santería. Bombalé’s enjoying and chanting provoked a robust name and response within the Yoruba language with some Cuban members of the viewers on the Oct. 26 present at Barcelona’s Palau de la Música. Bombalé then left the stage and sang from the aisles on the grand Catalan Modernist live performance corridor that's now a UNESCO World Heritage website.

The three drums that Bombalé carried out with on the live performance should not the identical as those utilized in these rituals, the place three males initiated right into a fraternity every play one of many drums, that are carved from a single piece of wooden, symbolizing unity. Onstage with Valdés, Bombalé makes use of a set of batá manufactured by LP.

 “They should not sacred, they're devices for making music,” he explains. “Playing at a ceremony will not be the identical as enjoying in a music corridor.” But, he stresses, the rhythms he's enjoying are the identical. “The mysticism stays,” he provides, explaining that el maestro Valdés builds harmonies across the elementary batá rhythms.

Valdés recorded Jazz Batá 2 as a tribute to his father in what would have been his 100th yr. It was Bebo who within the early 1950s conceived a brand new sound for a jazz massive band with an amplified Afro-Cuban percussion session at its heart, that includes the batá and thus pioneering a revolutionary idea. The rhythm he dubbed the batanga was unveiled with a lot fanfare on a reside radio broadcast. But Bebo’s batanga proved to be earlier than its time, and shortly disappeared within the shadow of one other new groove: the mambo.

With Jazz Batá 2, due out Nov. 16 (Mack Avenue), Chucho Valdés additionally salutes the early days of his personal famously ingenious profession. He recorded his 1972 album Jazz Batá with an experimental jazz trio, infusing it with Afro-Cuban essence by substituting the drum package with the batá. Valdés made that report with the venerable percussionist and drum maker Oscar Valdés and bassist Carlos del Puerto. Shortly thereafter, each musicians would be a part of Chucho as founding members of his influential group Irakere, which might change into the cornerstone of latest Cuban jazz. (In a historic second in Cuba-U.S. relations, the group received a Grammy award in 1980; Chucho has since received 5 extra, and three Latin Grammys.)

Valdés magistral compositions on Jazz Batá 2 conjure ancestral African spirits, but additionally these of progressive jazz greats, classical composers and a century’s value of Cuban widespread music innovators. With the benefit and confidence of his stature, Chucho, who's 77 years-old, brings ot the fore the timeless grace and steady innovation that marked his father’s profession, and has characterised his personal inventive output.

The album features a music that Chucho’s father typically performed on the piano at dwelling when he was a boy. “I by no means heard it on any album,” he advised the viewers on the Barcelona live performance. Nor had he heard his father name it by identify. Chucho titled the monitor merely “100 Años de Bebo”. (“One Hundred Years of Bebo”).

The 50th anniversary version of the Barcelona Jazz Festival, which runs by means of December is devoted to Bebo Valdés, and consists of an upcoming live performance by Diego el Cigala, with whom Bebo recorded the hit album Lagrimas Negras. Chucho Valdés and his band will carry out on The Jazz Cruise departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL in January 2019, and can deliver Jazz Batá on tour to a number of U.S. cities in February.