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Forma Nueva

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Album Review

Pianist Manuel Valera combines together the influences of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock with a mastery of Afro-Cuban jazz to form his own fresh style. On this modern mainstream set, Valera excels at both straight-ahead and Latin rhythms. Most selections feature a trio with the brilliant bassist John Patitucci and either Horacio Hernández or Bill Stewart on drums, while four numbers add guest saxophonist Seamus Blake. Valera's post-bop originals (all but two of the dozen songs are his) tend to be complex, but some are a bit more accessible than expected due to the rhythmic patterns. The tender version of "Say It (Over and Over Again)" is a change of pace and quite memorable. Overall, this CD serves as proof that Manuel Valera, despite not being that well known yet, is a brilliant and potentially great jazz pianist. Recommended.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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 Samuell 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...
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Forma Nueva, Manuel Valera
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