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Bebo Valdes Legendary Pianist and Composer

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Hot on the heels of his appearance in the 2000 film Calle 54, with his son, Chucho and his stunning Latin/flamenco project Lagrimas Negras, This 2-CD/DVD set is an impressive musical autobiography of the Cuban-born, Stockholm-based octogenarian pianist, Bebo Valdes. He’s supported by an array of Latin jazz all-stars, including saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and the late trombonist Juan Pablo Torres. The first disc is an eight-suite big band opus entitled Suite Cubana. “Cachao, Creator del Mambo,” pays tribute to the influential bassist, while the processional pulsations on “Nocturno en Batanga,” features the engaging rhythm Valdes created in the ’50s. The second disc, El Solar de Bebo (Bebo’s Place) showcases the pianist in a smaller octet setting. With more room to swing, Valdes’s profound pianisms percolate on the Haitianized joropo beats on “Iballah,” and the infectious “La Mula.” The 22-minute DVD documentary, which contains interviews and rehearsal footage, completes this splendid overview of this towering musician. –Eugene Holley, Jr.

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