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Cuban-born pianist/composer and bandleader Manuel Valera is a forward-minded jazz musician with a knack for combining myriad Latin styles with contemporary jazz and post-bop. Starting out as a saxophonist while studying at the Manuel Saumell Conservatory in Havana, Valera switched full-time to piano after moving to the United States and enrolling in the New School in New York City around 1994. He has performed with a variety of name musicians, including bassist John Patitucci, reed player Paquito D'Rivera, saxophonist Seamus Blake, percussionist Dafnis Preito, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and many others. He released his debut album, Forma Nueva, on Mavo Records in 2004. Since then he has released a handful of records, including Melancolia in 2006 and Vientos in 2007. Currents arrived in 2009, with New Cuban Express following in 2012. ~ Matt Collar