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Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band: Tiene El Leopardo Un Abrigo / Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca

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Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band

Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Manuel Valera (Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Smith) presents the dynamic debut of his New Cuban Express Big Band. Inspired by José Martí, the famed Cuban writer and independence hero, José Martí en Nueva York features Valera’s song cycle of original music based on nine poems from Martí’s seminal 1891 collection, “Versos Sencillos.”

Addressing a range of political and societal issues that are relevant even today, the texts are set for two unique vocalists, Sofia Rei and Camila Meza. Valera uses the broad palette of the big band to express a wide breadth of moods and emotions, touching on traditional Cuban music styles (Danzón, bolero) as well as modern Latin jazz to give Martí’s poetry new life.

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band - José Martí en Nueva York

The album’s large ensemble features some of New York’s best creative musicians, including standout soloists Michael RodriguezRoman FiliúJoel Frahm, and Mauricio Herrera. Produced by Kabir Sehgal and Doug Davis, the album is modern big band jazz with a message. Born out of the crisis of Valera’s loss of his wife to cancer last year, Jose Marti en Nueva York is a personal cry for freedom, justice, and an expression of passion.

“Manuel Valera stands in a long line of virtuoso Cuban-born musicians based in New York. As a pianist, he’s established himself as a versatile first-call musician; as a bandleader, he’s often found new connections between pan-Latin rhythms and modern jazz styles.” NPR

More info at: https://greenleafmusic.com/artists/manuel-valera/jose-marti-en-nueva-york/

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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Grant Richards’ Live Performance of “Ballyhoo”

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Grant Richards

Grant Richards – a pianist deeply immersed in bebop and the blues – leads his music in a bold
and emergent new direction with Ballyhoo, an Afro-Cuban celebration of a previously unspoken
dream, finally realized in a tangible elation of musicianship, culture, and unbridled wonder.
Richards, like the great jazz composers throughout history, wrote the music on Ballyhoo not for
generic instruments, but for the specific and unique musical personalities of the musicians in his
ensemble.

Ballyhoo is the title track from my new album, my first excursion into Latin jazz, combining
many elements that get me out of my comfort zone like intricate grooves, odd keys, and the
necessity for precise execution,” Richards shares. “The title implies an excited commotion and
with the crisp performance by my bandmates Damian Erskine, Reinhardt Melz, and Carmelo
Torres
, I think this track embodies the exuberance and playfulness I intended for the project as a
whole.”

Album cover - Grant Richards: Ballyhoo
Album cover – Grant Richards: Ballyhoo

What is Ballyhoo? The word embodies sensation, animation and enthusiasm, and the record at
its core presents all of the same. Ballyhoo was released on September 24, 2021.

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