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Bebo Valdés Bebo rides again

BEBO VALDES " Bebo rides again " one of the by-products of the Cuban revolution since 1959 has been the exodus of many artists and musicians. In droves at the beginning and later in less quantity, it has always been constant. Some of the [...]

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Bebo Valdés Bebo rides again


BEBO VALDES "Bebo rides again" one of the by-products of the Cuban revolution since 1959 has been the exodus of many artists and musicians. In droves at the beginning and later in less quantity, it has always been constant. Some of the latest were internationally known figures, such as Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, and Juan-Pablo Torres. After each defection the Cuban government blasted against the ones who left, and, of course, Cuban musicians and artists still living in Cuba were forbidden to have any relation with the deserters and, in many instances, forced to utter declarations against them. But, of course, music is stronger than politics. Inside and outside the country Cuban artists and musicians kept in touch, and while encountering each other in any corner of the world, they met discreetly and talked for hours about the main theme in their lives: Cuban music and Jazz. One of the most dramatic cases of this saga is the Valdes family. Bebo Valdes was a very important figure in Cuban music when he fled in 1960. He left two children in the music business - his son Chucho, pianist and director of the Irakere group, and his daughter Mayra, an exceptional singer. Time passed and life went on. Bebo and Chucho have been able to see each other a couple of times. From "worms", as they were labeled formerly, now they are considered "the Cuban community outside of Cuba", and a certain degree of relationship is permitted, provided they don't interfere in politics.
This is Bebo's first recording after 34 years. Paquito D´Rivera telephoned Bebo and told him where and when the rendezvous would be, plus he didn't want to record old Bebo hits, but new stuff. That left Bebo with 36 hours to compose eight new numbers and arrange all of them except "Pa' Gozar", an arrangement of Chucho Valdes, transcribed by Paquito and Carlos Emilio. Of course he didn't sleep and arrived at the studio with very stiff fingers after such a long session of handwriting. But fortunately he is a young man of 76 and you will hear what kind of piano he was capable of playing, in spite of all that!

In a session like this everything has a purpose and a meaning. Take, for example, the title of the first number: "Al Dizzy Gillespie". Normally it should have been entitled "A Dizzy Gillespie", which means "To Dizzy Gillespie", but the title reads "To The Dizzy Gillespie", meaning there is, and always will be, only one Dizzy. What a difference a little "I" makes! Also you'll find a lot of counterpoint or dialogue of some instrument with others, throughout this compact disc. Not unisonous riffs with the whole ensemble, not solos with the rest of the group lending a very discreet background, but vigorous interchange among parts.There is a reason and a meaning for this: Cubans from in and out are talking again (through music) after more than 30 years. Nobody is trying to impose upon the others, but rather to express their own feelings, to share them. Carlos Emilio Morales, a top-class guitarist and member of the Irakere group, has the solo opportunities he seldom gets while playing in his group.

AL DIZZY GILLESPIE is not only a homage to Dizzy but also to the impact that Cubop had on American music at the end of the forties. It's a leisurely mood, with guitar, piano, trombone, alto sax, trumpet, and bass chattering among themselves. Inevitably a few bars at the end will remember "Salt Peanuts", one of the first standards of Bebop.

FELICIA is a bolero that Bebo composed for his Swedish grand-daughter of the same name, or perhaps for his eleven grand-children he doesn't know. So if you find tenderness, the intrinsic delicacy of dreams, the ubiquity of love, while Diego plays the fluegelhorn and Carlos Emilio the guitar, you are on the right track!

LA COMPARSA - a homage to the birth centennial of the great Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona - is simple and sublime. Just Bebo's piano, Carlos Emilio's guitar, and Patato's bongo recreating this masterpiece of Lecuona with the intricacies of Cuban rhythm, with the subtleness of its harmonies. A token to be remembered among the best the maestro will receive this year. When Bebo arrived at the recording studio on November 28 his greeting to Paquito was "Me has Ilevado A LA MARCHERS". This is a very old Cuban idiom, meaning "you have pushed me too fast".

In ANDA (go on) Bebo starts again, dialoguing with the bass plus Amadito; the trombone follows and then Amadito, beating the skins.

PA' GOZA (to enjoy) places us in the hedonism of the fifties, with mambo-chä rhythm, and Carlos Emilio telling his own story, while Bebo agrees with him, then Paquito's clarinet has its own saying. You notice the fluidity, the casual flow that makes Cuban music irresistible.

Pan con Timba piece of bread with guava paste inside. It is also the name of a very poor neighborhood in Havana. Santiago opens with the bass, followed by a very spicy trombone solo by Juan-Pablo, and then Paquito improvises in the way a sonero would, that is, using some fragments of other songs, in this case "Maracaibo Oriental, Adios" and "Tropical Heatwave". Then Bebo tops them all!

Another oasis, another classic: VEINTE AñOS (twenty years) by Maria Vera. This time Bebo dialogues with Juan-Pablo, and again the magic of their music merges. They belong to different generations of Cuban musicians and yet they match as if they had been playing together for decades.
As a pianist Bebo is as elegant as Lecuona, as rhythmic as the great danzones players, such as Antonio Romeu and Che Belen
Puig, as inspired and fiery as montuno players like Anselmo Sacasas and Lily Martinez, as creative as
Frank Emilio or Peruchin, as innovative as the new crop such as Chucho Valdes, his son, or Gonzalo Rubalcaba. I have just mentioned some of the cream of Cuban popular pianists, but Bebo is the master pianist, just as Cachao remains the master at the bass.

Definitely Bebo is riding again. This is just the beginning ...

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