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A Cuban Jazz Masterpiece

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Tuesday November 06, 2018

From Billboard

Chucho Valdés Honors Father Bebo With a Cuban Jazz Masterpiece
By: Judy Cantor-Navas

Chucho Valdés’ opening concert at Barcelona’s Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival celebrated both his new album, Jazz Batá 2, and the centennial of the birth of his father, Bebo Valdés. Near the end of the show, the renowned Cuban pianist — who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award during a private ceremony before next 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 join the band in a jubilant dance that traced the steps of African religious ritual’s journey into popular Cuban music.

In the center of this on-stage rumba were the batá of the album’s title, a set of three progressively-sized two-headed drums that were being played together by one musician, Dreiser Durruthy Bombalé.

‘It’s a unique sound,’ says Bombalé, 41, who began learning the secrets of the batá at a young age in Cuba. He stresses that he is still learning. ‘The batá is very conversational,’ he tells Billboard of the hour-glassed shaped drums, which play the rhythms used to call the pantheon of Afro-Cubans gods in ceremonies of the religion commonly known as Santería.

[…] Valdés magistral compositions on Jazz Batá 2 conjure ancestral African spirits, but also those of progressive jazz greats, classical composers and a century’s worth of Cuban popular music innovators. With the ease and confidence of his stature, Chucho, who is 77 years-old, brings ot the fore the timeless grace and continuous innovation that marked his father’s career, and has characterized his own artistic output.

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