Sheldon T. Nunn – Jesús Valdés Rodríguez, whose stage name is Chucho Valdés, was born October 9, 1941 in Quivican, Cuba. As a pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger whose career has spanned more than 50 years is a former member of the Orquesta Cubana Musica Modema. In 1973 he formed the group Irakere, which became one of Cuba’s best-known Latin jazz musical exports. Chucho was primarily influenced by his father, Bebo Valdés, a noteworthy pianist in his own right. Collectively, Bebo’s influence on both Chucho and another son Chuchito has created a piano dynasty that has helped to heighten the Latin jazz experience. During Chucho Valdes’ multi-faceted career he has won six Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards; but most importantly, Chucho Valdés has been a key figure in the development of Afro-Cuban jazz for more than 50 years. Valdes’ most distinctive contribution to jazz occurred in 1972 with the release of his fourth album containing a trio recording with bass and batá drums simply titled ‘Jazz Batá;’ Decades later, Chucho Valdés would re-visit the Jazz Batá sound that combined the rudiments of jazz with traditional rhythms of the sacred batá which led to alternative approaches to classic forms.
According to The New York Times, Chucho Valdes is:
“A pianist of imperial command, possessed of a dazzling, deceptively casual virtuosity.”
As noted in The Houston Chronicle:
“Be it as a composer or as a pianist, Valdés… is one of the great pillars in the history of contemporary jazz.”