Bebo Valdés: Giant of Cuban Music


Pianist, arranger, bandleader, and composer Bebo Valdés had two splendid careers separated by more than thirty years of obscurity. Mambo, filin, batanga, descarga – he was a great innovator in Cuba music. For ten years he was music director of the famed Tropicana orchestra. His big band backed Cuba’’s greatest stars. He was the pianist on Nat “King” Cole’s famed Havana recordings. Then everything changed. He left Cuba in 1960 and largely forgotten by the world, his son Chucho Valdés became a dominant musical figure in post-revolutionary Cuba, and one of the world’s great pianists. Then, beginning in 1994, Bebo Valdés began a dramatic career resurgence via a brilliant series of concerts, recordings, and movies that brought his knowledge, skills, and inimitable style into the twenty-first century, making him a bigger star than every before and culminating in an electrifying series of collaborations with Chucho. We’’ll tell the story and play the music…. Photo by Francesco Sapienza.

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