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Hargrove, Roy

Roy Hargrove

Jazz musician, trumpet player

After recording his highly acclaimed first album at age 20, trumpet and flugelhorn player Roy Hargrove became a charter member of a precocious group of jazz prodigies known as "The Young Lions." Hargrove, along with fellow trumpeters Nicholas Peyton and Marlon Jordan, saxophonists Antonio Hart and Joshua Redman, bassist Christian McBride, and a host of other young players, ignited a global resurgence in the popularity of jazz. Intelligent, well-educated, and articulate, with a strong sense of jazz's rich history, these musicians were signed by major recording labels and supported by the kind of publicity formerly reserved for pop stars.

In an astonishingly brief time, Hargrove became one of the most influential artists of this young generation. He developed an extremely personal style that tempered brilliant virtuosity with grace and passion. Tom Masland of Newsweek remarked of Hargrove, "He plays with a sweetness that speaks of a world of hurt." Even early in his career, Hargrove's work showed a sense of order that many players take decades to achieve. As New York Times writer Richard B. Woodward put it, his solos are a "string of sentences that read as paragraphs."

Introduction to Jazz

Hargrove was surrounded by music from an early age, but it was his elementary and high school band director, Dean Hill, who sparked his interest in a performing career. Hill not only guided Hargrove's development as an improviser, but introduced him to a variety of great jazz musicians, including David "Fathead" Newman, a legendary sax player who many years later joined Hargrove on his eighth album, Family.

While working with Hill, Hargrove discovered the music of Clifford Brown, a brilliant trumpeter who recorded extensively in the 1950s and who died at age 25. It was Brown's example, Hargrove told Rocky Mountain News writer Norman Provizer, that gave the young trumpeter confidence in his own musical gifts. "That was the key that opened the door for me," he recalled. "There have always been musicians who could play no matter what age they were. If you love it, you will search it out regardless of your age."

Like many jazz musicians of his generation, Hargrove also owed an important debt to trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. After hearing Hargrove perform at Dallas's Arts Magnet High School, Marsalis invited him to sit in with his group at the Caravan of Dreams Performing Arts Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The performance effectively launched Hargrove's career, and though some writers later tried to promote competition between Hargrove and his mentor, the younger musician has demonstrated nothing but respect and admiration for Marsalis. "I really dig Wynton's place in society," he told Woodward. "He's a tremendously dedicated person." In 1995 Hargrove put all rumors of a feud to rest by inviting Marsalis to join him on his Family album.

Hargrove's debut at the Caravan of Dreams led to extensive tours of the United States and Europe. In 1990, after two years at Boston's prestigious Berklee School of Music, he moved to New York City, formed his first quintet, and released his debut album, Diamond in the Rough. This album, and the three succeeding recordings Hargrove made for the Novus label, were among the most commercially successful jazz recordings of the early 1990s, and made the young trumpeter one of the music's hottest properties. Unimpressed by stardom, Hargrove continued to develop his craft by performing with jazz giants such as saxophonist Sonny Rollins and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

As Hargrove's talents as a soloist matured, so did his strength as a bandleader. During the early 1990s Hargrove experimented with a variety of personnel, trying to build a tightly focused ensemble. As he told Provizer, "No matter how many people you have in a group, you need to think as one." In 1992 he laid the foundation for future groups by hiring bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, who together comprised one of the finest rhythm units in modern jazz. By the release of 1993's Of Kindred Souls, Hargrove's exacting taste and hard work had paid off. In the words of San Francisco Chronicle writer Derk Richardson, he had found "the kind of unified group feeling that has distinguished the most fondly remembered acoustic jazz units, from the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet, through the classic Miles Davis bands of the 1960s."

In 1994 Hargrove made a widely publicized move to Verve Records and released The Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time. The concept for the recording was unique: Hargrove's own quintet, featuring sax player Ron Blake and pianist Cyrus Chestnut, in addition to Whitaker and Hutchinson, was joined by some of jazz's greatest tenor sax players, including veterans such as Joe Henderson and Stanley Turrentine, and relative newcomers like Branford Marsalis (Wynton's brother) and Joshua Redman. But unlike other "all-star" jam recordings, the album presented each guest soloist individually, in repertory especially chosen to illustrate his talents. The recording, dubbed "a jazz classic" by Star-Ledger critic George Kanzler, was one of the best-selling jazz albums of 1994.

In June of 1995 Hargrove released Family, his second recording for Verve. As the title suggests, the album paid tribute to the musicians and relatives who played a significant role in the trumpeter's life. Like The Tenors of Our Time, Family featured a variety of guest artists. "Young Lions" such as Christian McBride and sax player Jesse Davis, as well as established figures like pianist John Hicks and drummer Jimmy Cobb once again joined Hargrove's quintet. The result was an exciting and heartfelt look at jazz's past, present, and future.

For the Record …

Born October 16, 1969, in Waco, TX; son of Roy Allan (a musician and member of the U.S. Air Force) and Velera Hargrove. Education: Attended Berklee School of Music, 1988–90; attended New School for Social Research Jazz and Contemporary Music Program, 1990.

Discovered by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in Dallas, TX, 1986; toured Japan and Europe; formed quintet and released first album, Diamond in the Rough, Novus, 1990; appeared with saxophonist Sonny Rollins at Carnegie Hall concert, New York City, 1991; premiered first extended composition, "The Love Suite in Mahogany," Lincoln Center, New York City, 1993; participated in Verve Records 50th anniversary celebration, Carnegie Hall, 1994; offered series of master classes and clinics in the New York City public schools, 1994; released Family and Charlie Parker tribute, Parker's Mood, 1995.

Awards: Down Beat Student Music Award, 1988; first place, 1992 Jazz Times Readers' Poll; voted "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in Down Beat's 1993 Critics' Poll; Grammy Award, for Habana, 1997.

Addresses: Record company—Verve Records, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.

Family also showcased several of Hargrove's own works. "The Trial" was a dark and intense movement from his extended composition "The Love Suite in Mahogany," which had premiered at New York City's Lincoln Center in September of 1993. The piece featured an imaginative duet for bowed bass and soprano sax. The Latin-tinged "Another Level" placed the innovative solos of Hargrove, Blake, and pianist Stephen Scott against a complex background of shifting rhythmic patterns. And "Trilogy" painted brief portraits of three of Hargrove's family members: the lush, tender "Velera" paid homage to Hargrove's mother; "Roy Allan" evoked the sousaphone playing of Hargrove's father with an infectious, driving bass line; and the looping melody of the blues number "Brian's Bounce" was inspired by Hargrove's energetic brother.

Jazz "Makes a Difference"

As Hargrove's star continued to ascend, he also dedicated himself to spreading jazz's affirmative message to a new generation of musicians. Following Wynton Marsalis's lead, he began giving workshops for jazz musicians in high schools throughout the United States. "There is a positive aspect to playing music, and it makes a difference when you can reach young people around the country and tell them about jazz," he told Down Beat columnist June Lehman. "You may inspire a young person to do great things just by having music in their life."

Later in 1995 Hargrove released Parker's Mood. The album was recorded to commemorate the 75th birthday of saxophone legend Charlie Parker—nicknamed "Bird"—with Christian McBride on bass and Stephen Scott on piano. According to The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, the album was "a delightful meeting of three young masters, improvising on sixteen themes from Bird's repertoire. Hargrove's luminous treatment of 'Laura' provides further evidence that he may be turning into one of the music's pre-eminent ballad players, but it's the inventive interplay among the three men that takes the session to its high level."

For his next musical endeavor, Hargrove abandoned bop for Afro-Cuban. Habana, released in 1997, was inspired by jam sessions between the trumpeter and the Cuban dance band Los Van Van. The chemistry between the performers culminated in the formation of a ten-piece group named Cristol, which also included Cuban piano sensation and jazz legend Chucho Valdes and guitarist Russell Malone.

Hargrove's musical restlessness led him from Afro-Cuban and borderline progressive jazz to orchestral jazz on his 1999 follow-up, Moment to Moment. On this disc, Hargrove was joined by drummer Willie Jones III, alto sax player Sherman Irby, pianist and arranger Larry Willis, and bass player Gerald Cannon. Gild Goldstein and Cedar Walton also contributed string arrangements. In 2003 Hargrove released an all-star collaboration, Hard Groove, which featured such guests as Erykah Badu, Common, D'Angelo, Marc Cary, Q-Tip, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Cornell Dupree, and Karl Denson. All Music Guide critic Paula Edelstein wrote: "Overall, Roy Hargrove has evolved as a hipper version of himself and given his listeners an entirely new musical direction than that heard on his Grammy-winning Habana or his sensuous ballad recording Moment to Moment."

In 2006 Hargrove released two albums, Distractions and Nothing Serious. The former album featured electric instrumentation, and the latter is an acoustic bop album. All Music Guide critic Thom Jurek declared Distractions a "deeply gratifying, fun, and in-the-pocket album. It's perfect for a steamy summertime." Featuring guest appearances by David "Fathead" Newman and D'Angelo, the album's tracks veer into the funk territory established in the 1970s by such horn-based bands as the Ohio Players and George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic. Nothing Serious, on the other hand, was an acoustic outing that found Hargrove once again flirting with Afro-Cuban sounds, swing, and, of course, bop.

Selected Discography

Diamond in the Rough, Novus, 1990.
Public Eye, Novus, 1991.
(Contributor) Antonio Hart, For the First Time, Novus, 1991.
(Contributor) Sonny Rollins, Here's to the People, Milestone, 1991.
(Contributor) Stephen Scott, Something to Consider, Verve, 1991.
(Contributor) New York Stories, Capitol, 1992.
The Vibe, Novus, 1992.
Roy Hargrove and Antonio Hart: The Tokyo Sessions, Novus, 1992.
Of Kindred Souls, Novus, 1993.
Approaching Standards, Novus, 1994.
Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time, Verve, 1994.
(Contributor) Johnny Griffin, Chicago, New York, Paris, Verve, 1995.
(Contributor) Christian McBride, Gettin' to It, Verve, 1995.
(Contributor) Teodross Avery, In Other Words, GRP, 1995.
(Contributor) David Sanchez, Sketches of Dreams, Columbia, 1995.
Family, Verve, 1995.
Parker's Mood, Verve, 1995.
Habana, Verve, 1997.
Moment to Moment, Verve, 1999.
Hard Groove, Verve, 2003.
Distractions, Verve, 2006.
Nothing Serious, Verve, 2006.

Compositions

"The Love Suite in Mahogany," 1993.
"Trilogy," 1995.

Sources

Books

The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, The Penguin Group, 1996.

Periodicals

Billboard, April 2, 1994; July 8, 1995.

Chicago Sun-Times, June 12, 1994.

Detroit Free Press, Sept. 24, 1993.

Down Beat, July 1994; August 1994; September 1994; August 1995.

Essence, December 1991.

Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1995.

Metro Times (Detroit, MI), September 2, 1992.

Newsweek, December 12, 1994.

New York Post, April 4, 1994.

New York Times, June 23, 1994; September 7, 1994.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), February 16, 1994.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 14, 1994.

Star-Ledger, June 5, 1994.

Washington Post, March 4, 1995.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 12, 2006).

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Verve Records, 1995.

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Hargrove, Roy

Roy Hargrove

Jazz trumpeter

Inspired by Early Teacher

Formed Quintet, Released Debut

Collaborated with Lions on Tribute to Family

Selected discography

Selected compositions

Sources

After recording his highly acclaimed first album at age 20, Roy Hargrove became a charter member of a precocious group of jazz prodigies known as The Young Lions. Hargrove, along with fellow trumpeters Nicholas Peyton and Marlon Jordan, saxophonists Antonio Hart and Joshua Redman, bassist Christian McBride, and a host of other young players, ignited a global resurgence in the popularity of jazz. Intelligent, well-educated, and articulate, with a strong sense of jazzs rich history, these musicians were signed by major recording labels and supported by the kind of publicity formerly reserved for pop stars.

In an astonishingly brief time, Hargrove arose as one of the most influential artists of this young generation. He developed an extremely personal style that tempered brilliant virtuosity with grace and passion. Tom Masland of News week remarked of Hargrove, He plays with a sweetness that speaks of a world of hurt. Even early in his career, Hargroves work showed a sense of order that many players take decades to achieve. As New York Times writer Richard B. Woodward put it, his solos are a string of sentences that read as paragraphs.

Inspired by Early Teacher

Hargrove was surrounded by music from an early age, but it was his elementary and high school band director, Dean Hill, who sparked his interest in a performing career. Hill not only guided Hargroves development as an improviser, but introduced him to a variety of great jazz musicians, including David Fathead Newman, a legendary sax player who many years later joined Hargrove on his eighth album, Family.

While working with Hill, Hargrove discovered the music of Clifford Brown, a brilliant trumpeter who recorded extensively in the 1950s; he died at age 25. It was Browns example, Hargrove told Rocky Mountain News writer Norman Provizer, that gave the young trumpeter confidence in his own musical gifts. That was the key that opened the door for me, he recalled. There have always been musicians who could play no matter what age they were. If you love it, you will search it out regardless of your age.

Like many jazz musicians of his generation, Hargrove also owed an important debt to trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. After hearing Hargrove perform at Dallass Arts Magnet High School, Marsalis invited him to sit in with his group at the Caravan of Dreams Performing Arts Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The performance effectively launched Hargroves career, and though some writers later tried to promote competition between Hargrove and his mentor, the younger musician has dem-

For the Record

Born October 16, 1969, in Waco, TX; son of Roy Allan (a musician and member of the U.S. Air Force) and Velera Hargrove. Education: Attended Berklee School of Music, 1988-90; attended New School for Social Research Jazz and Contemporary Music Program, beginning 1990.

Discovered by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Dallas, TX, 1986; toured Japan and Europe; formed quintet and released first album, Diamond in the Rough, Novus, 1990; appeared with saxophonist Sonny Rollins at Carnegie Hall concert, New York City, 1991; premiered first extended composition, The Love Suite in Mahogany, Lincoln Center, New York City, 1993; participated in Verve Records 50th anniversary celebration, Carnegie Hall, 1994; offered series of master classes and clinics in the New York City public schools, 1994.

Awards: Down Beat Student Music Award, 1988; first place, 1992Jazz Times Readers Poll; voted Talent Deserving Wider Recognition in Down Beats 1993 Critics Poll.

Addresses: Record company Verve Records, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

onstrated nothing but respect and admiration for Marsalis. I really dig Wyntons place in society, he told New York Times contributor Woodward. Hes a tremendously dedicated person. In 1995 Hargrove put all rumors of a feud to rest by inviting Marsalis to join him on his Family album.

Formed Quintet, Released Debut

Hargroves debut at the Caravan of Dreams led to extensive tours of the U.S. and Europe. In 1990, after two years at Bostons prestigious Berklee School of Music, he moved to New York City, formed his first quintet, and released his debut album, Diamond in the Rough. This album, and the three succeeding recordings Hargrove made for the Novus label, were among the most commercially successful jazz recordings of the early 1990s, and made the young trumpeter one of the musics hottest properties. Still, unimpressed by stardom, Hargrove continued to develop his craft by performing with jazz giants such as saxophonist Sonny Rollins and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

As Hargroves talents as a soloist matured, so did his strength as a bandleader. During the early 1990s Hargrove experimented with a variety of personnel, trying to build a tightly focused ensemble. As he told Rocky Mountain News writer Provizer, No matter how many people you have in a group, you need to think as one. In 1992 he laid the foundation for future groups by hiring bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, who together comprised one of the finest rhythm units in modern jazz. By the release of 1993s Of Kindred Souls, Hargroves exacting taste and hard work had paid off: in the words of San Francisco Chronicle writer Derk Richardson, he had found the kind of unified group feeling that has distinguished the most fondly remembered acoustic jazz units, from the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet, through the classic Miles Davis bands of the 1960s.

Collaborated with Lions on Tribute to Family

In 1994 Hargrove made a widely publicized move to Verve Records and released The Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time. The concept for the recording was unique: Hargroves own quintet, featuring sax player Ron Blake and pianist Cyrus Chestnut, in addition to Whitaker and Hutchinson, was joined by some of jazzs greatest tenor sax players, both veterans such as Joe Henderson and Stanley Turrentine, and relative newcomers like Branford Marsalis (Wyntons brother) and Joshua Redman. But unlike other all-star jam recordings, the album presented each guest soloist individually, in repertory specially chosen to illustrate his talents. The recording, dubbed a jazz classic by Star-Ledger critic George Kanzler, was one of the best-selling jazz albums of 1994.

In June of 1995 Hargrove released his second recording for Verve, Family. As the title suggests, the album paid tribute to the musicians and relatives who played a significant role in the trumpeters life. Like The Tenors of Our Time, Family featured a variety of guest artists. Young Lions such as Christian McBride and sax player Jesse Davis, as well as established figures including pianist John Hicks and drummer Jimmy Cobb once again joined Hargroves quintet. The result was an exciting and heart-felt look at jazzs past, present, and future.

Family also showcased several of Hargroves own works. The Trial was a dark and intense movement from his extended composition The Love Suite in Ma-hogany, which had been premiered at New York Citys Lincoln Center in September, 1993. The piece featured an imaginative duet for bowed bass and soprano sax. The Latin-tinged Another Level placed the innovative solos of Hargrove, Blake, and pianist Stephen Scott against a complex background of shifting rhythmic patterns. And Trilogy painted brief portraits of three of Hargroves family members: the lush, tender Velera paid homage to Hargroves mother; Roy Allan evoked the sousaphone playing of Hargroves father with an infectious, driving bass line; and the looping melody of the blues number Brians Bounce was inspired by Hargroves energetic brother.

As Hargroves star continued to ascend, he also dedicated himself to spreading jazzs affirmative message to a new generation of musicians. Following Wynton Marsaliss lead, he began giving workshops for jazz musicians in high schools throughout the U.S. There is a positive aspect to playing music, and it makes a difference when you can reach young people around the country and tell them about jazz, he told Down Beat columnist June Lehman. You may inspire a young person to do great things just by having music in their life.

Selected discography

Diamond in the Rough, Novus, 1990.

Public Eye, Novus, 1991.

(Contributor) Antonio Hart, For the First Time, Novus, 1991.

(Contributor) Sonny Rollins, Heres to the People, Milestone, 1991.

(Contributor) Stephen Scott, Something to Consider, Verve, 1991.

(Contributor) New York Stories, Capitol, 1992.

The Vibe, Novus, 1992.

Roy Hargrove and Antonio Hart: The Tokyo Sessions, Novus, 1992.

Of Kindred Souls, Novus, 1993.

Approaching Standards, Novus, 1994.

Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time, Verve, 1994.

(Contributor) Johnny Griffin, Chicago, New York, Paris, Verve, 1995.

(Contributor) Christian McBride, Gettin to It, Verve, 1995.

(Contributor) Teodross Avery, In Other Words, GRP, 1995.

(Contributor) David Sanchez, Sketches of Dreams, Columbia, 1995.

Family, Verve, 1995.

(With Christian McBride and Stephen Scott) Parkers Mood, Verve, 1995.

Selected compositions

The Love Suite in Mahogany, 1993.

Trilogy, 1995.

Sources

Billboard, April 2, 1994; July 8, 1995.

Chicago Sun-Times, June 12, 1994.

Detroit Free Press, Sept. 24, 1993.

Down Beat, July 1994; August 1994; September 1994; August 1995.

Essence, December 1991.

Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1995.

Metro Times (Detroit), September 2, 1992.

Newsweek, December 12, 1994.

New York Post, April 4, 1994.

New York Times, June 23, 1994; September 7, 1994.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver), February 16, 1994.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 14, 1994.

Star-Ledger, June 5, 1994.

Washington Post, March 4, 1995.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Verve Records, 1995.

Jeffrey Taylor

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"Hargrove, Roy." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Valdés, Jé

Jésus "Chucho" Valdés: 1941: Musician



Known the world over as a musical giant, the six and a half foot tall Chucho Valdés's physical stature matched his musical accomplishment. The Afro-Cuban musician has been been the recipient of five Grammy Award nominations and two Grammys. His fascinating blend of African, South American, Cuban, and Spanish musical traditions seemed to rate a category of music all its own, and was just beginning to garner wide recogntion in the United States in the late 1990s. In 1996 Valdés played on Roy Hargrove's widely acclaimed album Crisol, and numerous U.S. concert dates and a North American record contract followed.

Cuban musicians were not officially permitted to perform in the United States until 1988. Some Cuban musicians, including Valdés's father, overcame that obstacle by defecting. But Valdés, who remained in his own country, was loved not only for his musical genius, but also for the fact that unlike so many musicians, he chose to continue living in Havana, claiming it as his permanent home. Despite the fact that the Cuban government has presented Valdés's success as one of its own, many Cuban people viewed Valdés as "one of them," and therefore, his success as their own.

Grew Up Around Jazz Greats


Born in Quivican, Havana, Cuba, on October 9, 1941, Jésus Valdés, called "Chucho," seemed destined for musical accomplishment. Not only was he the son of two musiciansRamon "Bebo," and Pilarhis father happened to be a composer and casino owner who rubbed elbows with the early jazz greats. Because of his father's connection to the famous Tropicana club, Valdés became personally and musically acquainted with Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Nat King Cole, Milt Jackson, and Ray Brown.

Valdés literally grew up at the piano, beginning at age three, and continuing on to train formally in classical piano at Havana's Municipal Conservatory. He credited his father with inadvertently inspiring his desire to compose by insisting on regular and accurate practice. During these hours, Valdés wondered why he would like playing one song and not another. Valdés told Down Beat, " I got to thinking that it was such a pity that sometimes songs that started so nicely ended up making no sense. You have to respect what the composer wrote and what he wants, but I have to admit that when I was growing up I would change a lot of the music from how it was written."

At a Glance . . .


Born Jésus Valdés on October 9, 1941, in Quivican, Havana, Cuba; children: seven.


Career: Musician, 1957-; Orquesto Cubana de Musica Moderna, 1967-73; Irakere, 1973; The Chucho Valdés Three; The Chucho Valdés Quartet.


Awards: Grammy Awards, 1978, 1997; Grammy Nominations, 1994, 1998, 1999; Latin Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Journalists' Association, 2000.


Address: International Music Network, 2 Main Street, 4th Floor, Gloucester, MA, 01930.




At the tender age of 16, Valdés formed a jazz trio. Two years later, he had two albums to his credit with RCA Victor. In 1965 he joined the Elio Reve Orquestra, and in 1967, Valdés formed the Orquestra de Musica Moderna. Out of this group came the widely-known Irakere in 1973. Two of the world-renowned musicians who once played in Irakere are Paquito D'Rivera, an original band-member, and Arturo Sandoval.

The word "irakere" is a Yoruba word which means "forest." The name was a tribute to the place known for producing Africa's legendary percussionists. Although the band members have changed over the years, Irakere remained together, and Valdés continued to be part of the group. Now headed by Valdés's son, Francisco, known as "Chuchito," Irakere fused African and Cuban music into a mix which included elements of rock, classical, jazz, and funk. In the late 1970s Irakere became the first Cuban group signed to an American recording label. The group's first album with Columbia earned them acclaim, including a Grammy Award.


Became Known in United States


The name of Chucho Valdés had been a household word in Cuba and in various other places from the 1960s on. But because of the embargo against Cuba begun by President Kennedy, Valdés was virtually unknown in the United States until the late 1990s when Valdés played on Roy Hargrove's Grammy-winning album Crisol. Sixteen years earlier, in 1980, Valdés founded the Annual Havana International Jazz Festival, an event he continues to direct. A variety of international musicians are invited to take part in the festival, and in 1996, it was Roy Hargrove's turn.

Hargrove invited Valdés to play in Hargrove's band in the United States, and after that, Valdés' North American career took off, with a string of concerts in major cities and several albums released in the country.


In recent years, Valdés has worked as a solo artist, and in groups he foundedthe Chucho Valdés Three and the Chucho Valdés Quartet. He continued to play and record with Irakere. Valdés's concerts benefitted from his inspired improvisational performances and commanding presence on stage. He told Down Beat that "Sometimes I think I'm a piano, and sometimes I think that the piano is me. Sometimes I play the piano, and sometimes the piano plays me. The music is always in my head. It's all of my life. It's my life."


Hosted Radio Show


At least four of Valdés's seven children have also become musicians. Son Chuchito played with Irakere, and daughter Layani studied and played piano in Italy. Another daughter was a drummer, and yet another daughter, Mayra, sang on a Valdés album. In addition to his musical work and directing the festival in Havana, Valdés hosted a government-sponsored jazz radio show broadcasting weekly, on Sundays. Cuba's Teatro Nacional's piano bench was fixed in a design to accommodate only Valdés, much to the chagrin of other musicians who wish to play there.


Despite his wide-ranging musical experience and interest, the piano remained Valdés's instrument. Valdés believes the piano to be an integral part of Cuban music, as well as a strong tie to his homeland. As he stated, according to Blue Note Jazz, one of Valdés' record labels, "We Cuban piano players are always thinking of the rhythm base. We're always thinking of Cuba when we play piano."


Selected discography

Cancione Ineditas, Egren, 2002.

Solo Live in New York, Blue Note, 2001.

Pianissimo, Iris, 2000.

Live at the Village Vanguard, Blue Note, 2000.

Briyumba Palo Congo, Blue Note, 1999.

Bele Bele en la Habana, Blue Note, 1998.


Sources

Books


Contemporary Musicians, Volume 25. Gale Group, 1999.


Periodicals


Down Beat, March 1999, v66, i3, p28.

Maclean's, July 16, 2001, p54.

On-line


www.bembe.com/afrocubanismo/musicians.html

www.cosmik.com/aa-may00/chucho_Valdés.html

www.emimusic.ca/bluenote_jazz/features/chuchoValdés.html

www.imnworld.com/Valdés.html

lafi.org/magazine/articles/chucho.html

www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/07.27.00/Valdés-0030.html

www.musiciansnews.com/music/artists/44/Jésus_chucho_Valdés/cd_solo_live_in_new_york.shthl

www.queenstheatre.org/latino-2001.html#Music

www.speakeasy.org/~nthorn/chucho.html

Helene Barker Kiser

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