Manuel Valera and New Cuban Express: In Motion

Manuel Valera and New Cuban Express - In Motion

What’s new in the idiom of jazz? The next generation of Cuban musicians have arrived. Look no further than what they have brought with them. It is not really a difficult assessment to make. Manuel Valera, David Virelles, Yosvany Terry, Elio Villafranca, Dafnis Prieto, Charles Flores (whose life was cut short before he could release his seminal contribution), the great Hilario Durán (stop underrating him), and a handful of others. These are the young masters who paying tribute to the grand masters of Afro-Cuban and Jazz idioms have helped to make much music. They have infused the Blues and Jazz with Blues and Jazz of their own. Their music is tempestuous, beguiling and always exciting. Like making that left turn unexpectedly to find something so inviting that the listener is stopped in his or her tracks. This new album by Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express In Motion is the third release since Mr. Valera formed the band. The new cast of characters includes the terrific bassist, Hans Glawischnig and awesome trumpeter Alex Sipiagin. This incarnation makes them somewhat stronger than they have ever been, not that John Benitez was not a fine member of the band, but their sound has become rounder and fuller with the addition of a trumpet and the more voluptuous acoustic bass.

Of these musicians, the Afro-Cuban idiom is more pre-eminent in the music of Hilario, David Virelles, Yosvany Terry and Elio Villafranca. The music of Manuel Valera, Dafnis Prieto and Charles Flores, has come to be represented by some sort of Confucian reed by the water’s edge, bending in the wind and twisting yielding to onrushing jazz idiom so that their elasticity is more pronounced. And this is the most evident in the music of Manuel Valera, who has taken musical meter and stretched it as far as it possibly can. His writing plays on the innermost ear like a very fast game of hopscotch, swinging, skittering and chasing the stone. This has become—in the case of the music—its heart that is no longer besting in its regular rhythm, but racing and skipping the odd beat every now and then. In the delightful melee is Mr. Valera who is a study in grace and beauty. Of all of the Cuban pianists playing today his pianism is most strongly aligned to classic melodicism. The rhythmic element of his left hand exists in the dance-like structure that holds up the melody like an edifice that is suddenly built before the wonderstruck listener. Suddenly because all the while the ear has been tuned to the percussion that has been adding subtle colours and tones to the music; then Mr. Valera solos and he gently shifts focus to the piano. His statements are elaborate as he expands on the geometry of the melody making wondrous structures in a high-wire act that is breathtaking to behold.

Manuel Valera is one of the most generous of musicians on this and other albums that he has made with various groups. Here, on In Motion his music unfolds best in the collaborative effort that he has forged with this ensemble. His ability to arrive in the limelight and withdraw from it is generous. This is evident in most of the music here, but is especially gracious on “Descargando,” the profoundly beautiful “Bantu” and the epic “Storyteller,” which are just three of the defining tracks on this exquisite album.

Track List: Descargando; Preamble; Bantu; No Puedo Ser Feliz; Storyteller; Mirrors; Para Emiliano; NYC; Factors

Personnel: Manuel Valera: piano and Fender Rhodes; Yosvany Terry: alto and soprano saxophones, chekeré; Tom Guarana: guitar; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet and flugelhorn; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Ludwig Alfonso: drums; Mauricio Herrera: percussion

Label: Criss Cross Jazz | Release date: September 2014

Website: manuelvalera.com | Buy music on: amazon

About Manuel Valera

Based in New York City, Grammy nominated artist, pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm and Yosvany Terry among many others. Read more…

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author

Related posts

11,395FansLike
1,607FollowersFollow
656FollowersFollow
1,857FollowersFollow
5,694FollowersFollow
165SubscribersSubscribe

Featured Posts

Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums: A Film by Soren Sorensen

Anyone approaching this film about the iconic Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa, by the award-winning filmmaker Soren Sorensen will be almost immediately struck...

Danilo Pérez featuring The Global Messengers: Crisálida

Danilo Pérez began forming his worldview - and aligning his music to it - ever since he came under the sphere of influence of...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part II)

Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more