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Album Review

It's not that Chucho Valdés' Virtuoso fails to dazzle — this is the same swift-fingered Valdés who plunked and pounded so appealingly alongside Buena Vista Social Club, after all — but it does take a couple of weird turns. The first several tracks land on unsuspecting ears like lullabies, the trouble there being not that they're overly gentle or soporific but that they lack a signature Cuban sound; skill goes on display at the expense of flavor. Later, when Valdés does let it rip alongside a more traditional, Buena Vista-style band, he is occasionally drowned out by the wailings of an overly emphasized jazz vocalist. But between these frustrations a cluster of rum-soaked winners spike through. Tuning way into "Sentimental" is like hitching a tear-stained ride to old Havana, and the weather-beaten charm of "El Manisero" couldn't be more distinctively, winningly Chucho-derived.


Born: 09 October 1941 in Quivican, Cuba

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Chucho Valdes is a highly accomplished and influential figure in the world of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz. Born in Quivican in 1941, Valdes is the son of the similarly influential Cuban bandleader Bebo Valdes from whom Chucho first received piano lessons. Having exhibited musical talent from a young age, Valdes eventually enrolled in the Municipal Music Conservatory of Havana, graduating at age 14. Inspired by such jazz pianists as Art Tatum and Thelonious...
Full bio
Virtuoso, Chucho Valdés
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