Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling
Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La Habana, Cuba, where he grew up in a musical family, (his father was one of the top percussionists of the legendary Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba). He graduated from ENIA (Havana National School of Art Instructors). After extensive musical training, he moved on to a flourishing career in what is known in Cuba as música popular, performing from one end of the island to the other with such luminaries as Richard Egües. During his formative years -both in Cuba and later in Mexico- he collaborated with many groups, including Orquesta Filarmónica de México, Gonzalo Romeu, Grupo Bandula, Celia Cruz, Albita Rodríguez, Lena Burke, Emmanuel, Natalia Jiménez, Yomira John, Ricardo Montaner, Mickey Tavera and Yuri. While in Mexico, he contributed his percussive skills to Juan de Marcos González’ highly acclaimed Afro-Cuban All Stars. In 2010 he relocated to the United States and has since collaborated with a virtual who’s who of popular jazz artists and dance groups, all specializing in the very popular son genre. In 2019 he was featured as percussionist with the Chucho Valdés Jazz Batá 2 Tour. Subsequently, he recorded three excellent albums under his own name and has currently released a fourth one. I believe this one to be his most ambitious project yet, full of beautiful melodies and exciting innovations.
Lovely Is As Feeling Gets
For this, his latest endeavor and admittedly his pride and joy, Miguelo Valdés has assembled a highly talented and diverse group of professional Latin artists, each dedicated to preserving the authentic feel of Cuban music. The combination of rare talent plus uncommon craftsmanship has produced a record that showcases the timeless quality of the music and the innate sabor (flavor) that is uniquely criollo. Aptly titled “Lovely”, it features the very same aggregation that he had formerly presented as the “Feeling Collectives Band”. Now, with a totally new concept, they have a new name, “The Feeling Messengers”, an appropriate name when you consider all that I’ve even talking about so far.
Certainly, this is a stellar group. Both their on-stage and studio performances are packed with lively syncopated rhythms that reflect such distinct genres as bolero-son, guaguancó, guaracha, cha cha chá and of course bolero feeling. Well known and respected throughout New York, New Jersey and the surrounding areas for combining contemporary jazz-bossa with the more traditional son-mambo (combinations that gel very nicely), while bringing to their audience an aura of nostalgia, love, longing, and happiness, all of which are manifested in their hot ’n’ cool tropicalismo. Not surprisingly, Miguelo’s new collective also seeks to bridge the racial and generational gaps and give meaning and understanding to the importance that such knowledge of musical history must play in breaking down barriers of misunderstanding between the various ethnic groups.
On this particular excursion, Miguelo Valdés performs on multiple percussion instruments. In addition, he is featured throughout as one of the lead vocalists. Of course, there are some really top of the line musicians joining him on these ten tracks. The list includes guitarist Jorge Valdés Chicoy, bassists Rudyck Vidal and Jiovanni Cofiño, trumpeters Paul Sánchez, Alfredo Pino and Tony Perigo, plus tres guitarist Rafael Sotomayor (who by the way is credited with Brazilian drum sequencing). All of the arrangements (except one) were written by Miguelo and Rudyck, working properly as a team. Added to this delightful list are such excellent vocalists as Yeny Valdés, Marylin Castillo, Mariang Valdés, Jadele McPerson, Barbara Zamora, Tathy Gálvez and David Oquendo. The overall production is credited to Miguelo, with added technical assistance from veteran sound engineer Luis Güell. The following notes are my impressions of the amazing music contained in this recording.