Chucho Valdés “The Creation”
with the Yoruban Orchestra | Hilario Durán & John Beasley, Musical Directors | The extraordinary summation of an extraordinary career
Doors: 7.30 pm
Start: 8 pm
A suite for big band, Afro-Cuban percussion and vocals: Pianist and composer Jesus “Chucho” Valdés tells the story of The Creation according to Regla de Ocha, the Afro-Cuban religion known as Santería.
Chucho Valdés made his early mark in Cuban music's history as founder, leader, main composer and arranger of the group Irakere, revolutionizing Latin Jazz with its fusion of rock, jazz and Afro-Cuban music in the 1970s. He had begun his professional career in the orchestra of his father, the pianist and arranger Bebo Valdés.
”La Creación represents the accumulation of all my experiences and everything I've learned in music,” says Valdés, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2021. If Irakere indicated a turn in his musical quest, leaving large ensembles behind, La Creación represents a return to big-band sonorities – but ”with the experience of the road traveled,” says Valdés who is winner of six Grammy and three Latin Grammy Awards.
Thematically, in La Creación, Valdés delves into concerns he has explored in works such as Irakere’s La Misa Negra (1987), an early milestone in his career, and Canto a Dios (2011), a more recent composition in which he fused jazz with symphonic music. The beliefs of the Catholic religion and the Regla de Ocha have coexisted in Cuba for centuries. Whether it was a survival strategy or a simple adaptation to a new context, the Orishas, the Afro-diasporic deities, assumed early on the identities of Catholic saints. ”Canto a Dios looks at certain themes from the point of view of the Catholic faith,” says Valdes. ”La Creación focuses on Olodumare, the Creator, God in the Yoruba universe. It's the other part of my roots, of my family, and my history.” Musically, in his new work, Valdés uses a sonic palette that includes elements of Santería ritual music, African music, the blues, and what he describes as ”an atmosphere in the style of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. ”This work is very significant to me,” Valdes concludes. ”I think it's my masterpiece – so far.”