Winner of six Grammy and three Latin Grammy Awards, the Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés is the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. In a rich career spanning sixty years, Chucho has pushed boundaries in pursuit of new expressions in Afro-Cuban music. His influence in the genre is immeasurable, his work establishing the standard by which younger generations set out to create their own.
Chucho’s musical education includes formal studies and countless nights on the best stages in Cuba as the pianist with his father, Bebo Valdés, and his orchestra Sabor de Cuba, and with the seminal Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna. Chucho is perhaps best known as the founder, pianist, and main composer and arranger of Irakere, a landmark ensemble in Cuban music. Chucho led Irakere for more than 30 years, but since 2005 he has focused on his personal career, highlighting his work as a pianist and leading small ensembles, like the Afro-Cuban Messengers, Jazz Batá, and his acclaimed Quartet.
Celebrating his 80th birthday in 2021, Chucho’s technique and creative output are as prodigious as ever. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, has been inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received a DC Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, his name joining an illustrious list that includes Kenny Barron, James Moody, Ellis Marsalis, George Wein, and Dave Brubeck.
Hailed by The New York Times as “one of the greatest musicians in jazz history,” Grammy Award winning saxophone titan Joe Lovano has distinguished himself as a prescient and pathfinding force in the arena of creative music.