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Valdés/Lovano review – intricate contemporary jazz meets sensual Cuban dance music

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Tuesday October 25, 2016

From The Guardian

Valdés/Lovano review – intricate contemporary jazz meets sensual Cuban dance music
Ronnie Scott’s, London
Joe Lovano and Chucho Valdés teamed up to find dazzling invention and lyricism in a seamless set
By: John Fordham

American saxophonist Joe Lovano’s roots in his homeland’s classic jazz go deep, but he’s been taking his masterful technique on longer trips lately – notably into west African music with his Cross Culture and Village Rhythms bands, and now a partnership with Havana piano phenomenon Chucho Valdés, with a vivacious Cuban rhythm section in the engine room.

On the first of two nights at Ronnie Scott’s, the quintet played some robust originals, and put inventive Cuban spins on both swing classics and Thelonious Monk quotes with lyricism and wit. Lovano prowled brusquely on tenor sax through a spiky bebop anthem, escorted at a contrastingly languid lope by Yaroldy Abreu Robles’ congas, before Valdés fired up the first of several dazzling piano fusions of diamond-bright treble runs and drum-pattern chords, and double bassist Gastón Joya flew through a seamless improvisation like a wind player’s circular breathing.

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