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Oscar Valdés, Great Virtuoso of the Musical Universe in Cuba, Passed Away



Percussionist, Singer and Bandleader, Oscar Valdés
Percussionist, Singer and Bandleader, Oscar Valdés

Havana, October 19, 2023 [Prensa Latina] – The musical universe in Cuba mourns the passing of the remarkable Cuban percussionist and vocalist Oscar Valdés at the age of 85, as announced by the Cuban Institute of Music [ICM].

Originally from Havana, the outstanding performer Oscar Valdés was born on November 12, 1937 into a family of great musicians, including his father Oscar [percussionist], his uncles Marcelino (percussionist), Alfredo and Vicentico Valdés [singers].

He began in the harmonic world in 1949 with a talent that he already had and that he perfected thanks to important teachers, who showed him the way of batá sounds, the construction of abakuá drums, batá and chekeres.

Defender of the Timbal, instrument he mastered at the Alejandro García Caturla Music School, Oscar Valdés joined the Rebel Army Group and Choir, at the same time he gave prestige with his virtuosity to orchestras CMQ, ICRT, Benny Moré Band and the Cubana de Música Moderna group.

When the popular band Irakere was created in 1972 under the guidance of Chucho Valdés, the performer became part of it as a singer and percussionist, being in charge of creating the lyrics and rhythmic ideas of the format, the folkloric elements. and the use of batá.

With this group, winner of a Latin Grammy in 1979, he transferred his mastery to the most important jazz festivals around the world, and on those stages he shared with high figures such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, among others.

In 1993 he worked with his sons Diego [bassist] and Oscarito [drummer], until founding in 2000 the Diákara group, defender of jazz and folkloric roots.

According to the press release, this allowed him to perform contemporary music with the use of Afro-Cuban instruments and with the help of three drummers.

The musicians who sang and played the tumbadora, the bongó, the batá and the drums were also integrated with the electric guitar, three brass, piano and bass.

With Diákara he performed at important nightclubs in this capital such as La Zorra y el Cuervo and the Jazz Café, he also composed, recorded and offered his experiences in the sound medium.

Until his last breath he enjoyed skills that allowed him to make arrangements for important compositions: Lágrimas negras, Son de la loma, A romper el coco and Xiomara.

In 2000 he taught classes at Universities in France and Argentina, and a year later he toured Spain and other European countries and Israel, where in addition to working with his group in clubs and festivals, he offered courses and conferences.

Oscar Valdés: Leyenda Viva
Oscar Valdés: Leyenda Viva – 2010 Cubadisco Winner

His production Leyenda Viva, under the Bis Music record label and where he fuses folkloric roots with Afrojazz, won the 2010 Cubadisco Special Prize.

At the time of his physical departure [October 19, 2023] he was a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba [Uneac].

2017 International Jazz Day in Havana – Manteca

Source: Prensa Latina

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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