Chucho Valdés in Puerto Rico

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Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Jazz Messengers in Puerto Rico: Concert Report by Wilbert Sostre – June 22, 2013

It was worth the ten years waiting to be in the presence once again of one of the true jazz masters, Chucho Valdés. As part of the Border-Free Tour, Chucho Valdés delighted the audience of the Centro de Bellas Artes of Puerto Rico with his intensity both in emotion and technique; and his exceptional ability to cross from classical to jazz to Latin jazz. Valdés outstanding compositions, “Pilar” (dedicated to his mother), “Bebo” (dedicated to his father) and “Congadanza” contain all those styles and more.

In every piece Valdés leaves the listeners marveling at his skills, his harmonic and rhythmic lines and solos. Valdés displays breathless energy in every creative improvisation, adding elements of classical music as in “Congadanza” and quoting melody lines from musicians like Dave Brubeck.

Even though Valdés is for sure the star of the group, he generously left plenty of space for the Afro Cuban Messengers to shine and display their technical ability on drums (Rodney Barreto Illarza), bass (Ángel Gastón Joya Perellada) and percussion (Dreiser Durruthy Bombalé, Yaroldy Abreu Robles).

I just hope Puerto Rico won’t wait ten more years to enjoy Valdés’ richly inventive and powerful music.