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Chucho Valdés Decoding Afro-Cuban Jazz

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Tuesday June 25, 2019

From The Jazz Journal

Decoding Afro-Cuban Jazz: The Music Of Chucho Valdés & Irakere
By: DAVE JONES

“This could quite easily have been separated into two very worthwhile and possibly more detailed books ‘” one explaining the complexities of Afro-Cuban Jazz, and the other celebrating the work of Chucho Valdés and Irakere. As it stands it’s a very interesting and useful publication trying to serve those two purposes, but not on a particularly even footing.

Chucho Valdés shouldn’t need any introduction to the jazz audience, and his co-author Rebeca Mauleón is a pianist and eminent author and educator in the field of Cuban music, so as a collaboration it seems like a very good fit. With the exception of pages 65-86, pages 37-169 are devoted to Valdés, his band Irakere, their songs, and a very interesting Q and A with Valdés entitled Questions For The Maestro (further details below). There follow a discography, bibliography, glossary and then three appendices ‘” the first an Afro-Cuban rhythm glossary, followed by an annotated list of works, a list of referenced audio recordings, and finally an index.

For each of the 11 Irakere songs we’re given a background, a basic musical analysis, and in the case of El Tata Cimarrón there’s also a short transcribed fragment. Then, for each of the songs, there’s a lead sheet with the transcribed melody, chord symbols and the form for the head (melody) and solos, together with the lyrics where applicable.”

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