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Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, pianist, composer, and arranger Jesus "Chuchito" Valdés, Jr. is the third-generation manifestation of a Cuban jazz piano dynasty that includes his father, Chucho Valdés, and grandfather, Bebo Valdés. The oldest of five siblings, Valdés was a child prodigy, attending and graduating from La Escuela de Musica Ignacio Cervantes. He had his first professional gig at the age of 16, working with Cuban singer and trumpeter Bobby Carcasses, and also accompanied singers Pello El Afrokan and Anibel Lopez for a time. In the mid-'80s Valdés was a member of the Cuban jazz combo Sonido Contemporáneo, and by the late '90s he had taken his father's spot in the renowned Irakere band when the elder Valdés opted to go solo. Eventually Chuchito followed suit, leading his own band and touring behind his fiery brand of Afro-Cuban jazz. He released a debut album, Encantado, in 2002 on Town Crier Records, following it with La Timba in 2002 and Herencia in 2004, both on J&N Records, and Keys of Latin Jazz in 2007 from Sony BMG International. Valdés continues to tour and record, making his home in Cancun, Mexico. ~ Steve Leggett
'80s, '90s, '00s