Connect with us

Concert Reviews

Chucho Valdés & the Afro Cuban Messengers Live at Lincoln Center

Maestro Chucho Valdés and the Afro Cuban Messengers performed to a full-house at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room. The show was part of the institution’s Afro-Cuban celebration, which served to promote cultural and artistic exchange between American and Cuban jazz musicians and culminated in a series of events in Havana, Cuba and New York City […]

Published

on

CHUCHO VALDES AND THE AFRO CUBAN MESSENGERS
LIVE AT THE ALLEN ROOM/JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER
(October 22nd and 23rd, 2010)

Performance Review by Tomas Peña

Maestro Chucho Valdés and the Afro Cuban Messengers performed to a full-house at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room. The show was part of the institution’s Afro-Cuban celebration, which served to promote cultural and artistic exchange between American and Cuban jazz musicians and culminated in a series of events in Havana, Cuba and New York City.

In addition to his performance schedule, Chucho was eager to premiere Chucho’s Steps (Los Pasos de Chucho), the result of seven years of collaboration and experimentation that stretches the boundaries of Afro Cuban music and jazz. In a recent interview Chucho said, “This is a very unique album. It contains many different things, including traditional (folkloric) Cuban music and Afro Cuban jazz; but there is also Dixieland jazz and African music, all combined into one single form.”

Live, the band stuck closely to material from the new recording, however there were also a few surprises. “New Orleans” (dedicated to the Marsalis family) took the audience on a journey through the Crescent City’s musical history and “Begin to Be Good” (featuring trumpeter Reinaldo Melian Alvarez) recalled Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” The Afro Cuban Messengers paid a scorching 50 bar tribute to John Coltrane’s Giant Steps then segued into an exciting musical offering for “Chango” (the powerful spirit of thunder and lightning in the Yoruba pantheon). Towards the end of the set the band switched gears and performed a Duke Ellington medley, followed by a tender interpretation of “Embraceable You,” as performed by Chucho and surprise guest, Wynton Marsalis.

The band received two well-deserved standing ovations and they graciously responded with an impromptu jam session, followed by an upbeat interpretation of a tune by Cuban icon, Silvio Rodriguez.

Chucho is fast approaching seventy but his fingers remain ageless. His commanding presence, improvisational prowess and vision are the driving force that pushes his compatriots to new heights.

The winner of seven Grammy awards and three Latin Grammy awards wrapped up his visit to New York with a performance at the historic Village Vanguard. For those of us who were fortunate enough to witness history in the making, it was an evening to remember.

The Afro Cuban Messengers are: Chucho Valdés – piano, Juan Carlos Rojas Castro – drums, Lazaro Rivero Alarcon – bass, Yaroldy Abreu Robles – percussion, Carlos Manuel Miyares Hernandez – tenor saxophone, Reinaldo Melian Alvarez – Trumpet, Dreisser Durruthy Bambole – Voice leader and batá.

Visit Chucho’s Website: http://www.valdeschucho.com

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Concert Reviews

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Published

on

On Thursday, October 13, 2022, representing two generations of Cuban Piano Masters, Hilario Durán and David Virelles got together at Koerner Hall, one of the most magnificent concert venues in Toronto. They were celebrating the release (in Canada) of their new recording Front Street Duets (Alma Records), a project they started working on at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto
Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Both artists were extremely happy of releasing their duet album after these past two years of the unimaginable worldwide health crisis. They were also excited to be in Toronto, and for being able to accommodate their busy schedules to perform their music in front of a very enthusiastic audience. Durán and Virelles expressed their utmost respect and admiration for each other. David from an early age considered Hilario as one of his musical heroes, a musical giant and influential figure in Cuba, in Canada and abroad. Hilario considers David as one of the most important Cuban pianist of his generation, a big star shining globally, from the highly competitive musical scene in New York.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

The concert got started started with Epistrophy, the first tune copyrighted by Thelonious Monk, followed by Sophisticated Lady / In A Sentimental Mood, two compositions by Duke Ellington. Next, Durán and Virelles performed four tunes from their new album: 1. Danza Lucumí, (beautifully arranged by Virelles), a song written by Alejandro García Caturla, a Cuban composer who together with Amadeo Roldán, are considered the leaders of Afro-cubanismo, a nationalist musical trend that incorporates Afro-Cuban songs, rhythms, and dances. 2. Challenge, a new composition by Durán. 3. La Malanga (also arranged by Virelles), a composition by Calixto Varona, one of the most important composers from Santiago de Cuba from the XIX century. 4. Guajira For Two Pianos, the first track on the album Front Street Duet, a fiery composition written by Durán.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

The first set came to an end with Airegin (an anadrome of Nigeria), a jazz standard composed by American saxophonist Sonny Rollins in 1954.

The second part of the concert started with a solo performance by David Virelles, Canción Estudio, composed by José Antonio “Ñico” Rojas, a prominent Cuban composer and guitarist, considered as one of the founders of the style of Cuban song called filin. Then it was Durán’s turn for an inspired solo performance of Autumn Nocturne (a notable composition written by Russian-born Josef Myrow with Kim Gannon). Durán had previously recorded this tune on his 1999 Justin Time Records release Habana Nocturna, a superb album that feature acclaimed saxophonist, flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnett, and drummer extraordinaire Horacio “El Negro” Hernández.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

Next, both pianists performed a set of four pieces written by Hilario Durán for the recording Front Street Duets. 1. David’s Tumbao, a composition dedicated to David Virelles. Durán is well known for his fiery tumbao style when he’s playing. 2. Punto Cubano #1, inspired on the genre of Cuban music known as punto guajiro or punto cubano, a poetic art with music that became popular in the western and central regions of Cuba in the 17th century and consolidated as a genre in the 18th century. 3. Santos Suárez’s Memories pays tribute to the Havana neighbourhood where Durán grew up, where he fell in love with the piano and became a musician. It brings back cherished memories involving his upbringing, his family and close friends. 4. Milonga For Cuba, a very special tribute dedicated to the people who protested in Havana last summer 2021.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles at Koerner Hall in Toronto

For the encore, Durán and Virelles interpreted a wonderful rendition of Body And Soul, a popular song and jazz standard written in 1930 with music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. Body and Soul is the track that closes the album Front Street Duets, and also brought to an end a tremendous musical night at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Photographs by Danilo Navas

Continue Reading

Most Read in 2022