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Bebo Valdés

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A top-notch pianist/composer/arranger, Bebo Valdés (father of pianist Chucho Valdés) was the musical director of nightclub shows at the Tropicana in Havana by 1948. Very active in the 1950s, Valdés was considered one of the giants of Cuban music, arranging many recordings, composing mambos, and organizing Afro-Cuban jazz jam sessions. He defected from Cuba in 1960 and by 1963 had settled in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1994, after 34 years away from recording, he cut Bebo Rides Again for the Messidor label, not only playing piano but composing eight numbers and arranging 11 songs in the 36 hours before the first session; he was 76 at the time. He subsequently appeared in the documentary film Calle 54 (2000) and recorded Bebo de Cuba in 2005. Bebo Valdés died of pneumonia in Stockholm in March 2013; he was 94 years old. ~ Scott Yanow

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