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Monday May 28, 2018

From the Charleston City Paper

Chucho Valdes and his quartet live in the moment
By: Vincent Harris

It would be difficult to tell the history of Cuban music, and Cuban jazz specifically, without mentioning Chucho Valdes. As a pianist, bandleader, and composer whose career has spanned five decades, Valdés is a towering figure in the jazz genre.

[…] What’s perhaps most interesting about Valdes is that he’s rarely, if ever, a showy player. His piano playing is typically deeply embedded in the music, serving as part of the rhythm section rather than taking the lead in the ensemble. Through a translator, Valdes says that that rhythm is the foundation of his chosen instrument.

“The piano is a harmonic, melodic and rhythmic instrument,” he says. “Therefore, they can make different kinds of rhythm.”

Valdes’ Spoleto performance will be with a quartet (Dafnis Prieto on drums, Yaroldy Abreu Robles on percussion, and Yelsy Heredia on bass), and he says that the larger the ensemble, the more possibilities there are, as opposed to some performers who prefer the space a smaller format like a trio can provide.

“A quartet has more resources than a trio,” he says, “And the big bands have a much more varied instrumentation and offer more sound possibilities.”

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