October 06, 2005

Chucho Valdéz

Recently I compiled a CD to give away at a work party. It was to be all solo piano, and I had planned to use tracks from various pianists. It was an exciting project to plan; 75 minutes of music—whatever I wanted… the only rules were that I had to use my own CDs and/or whatever I could borrow from friends, the library, or as a free download.

I knew I’d have to use the Chucho Valdéz track “Nandy” (from Chucho Valdéz Solo Piano) and “Tres Lindas Cubanas” (from Chucho Valdéz Solo: Live In New York). Not being limited to Cuban music, there were many great soloists I could include: Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Vladimir Horowitz, Ruben Gonzalez… (What a wonderful gift it is to be able to choose from 1,000 years of music!).

When the time came to play record producer, I found myself considering Valdéz pieces I hadn’t heard in a while… and I was completely blown away at rediscovering them. “Embraceable You” for example, and “Rhapsody in Blue,” (from Briyumba Palo Congo) sounded so fresh and new… so crisp and sharp… and tasty… There’s no way to know, but I’d guess that the Gershwins would have loved them.

Then there’s “Caravan,” the great Duke Ellington composition that quickly became a standard… everybody’s got a signature version of this great song; Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Mann, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker (I think)… but Valdéz’ version has something the others don’t have. Something so special it moves beyond mere “interpretation” and into something… completely different. Call it a “revisualization.” The Cuban influence rejuvenates Gershwin and Ellington!

In the end, my CD had two pianists; Valdez and Art Tatum. Can you imagine the duet they could’ve played?

Good Rhythms.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:38 AM, October 06, 2005  
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12:28 PM, October 10, 2005  

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