The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - COR­MAC LARKIN

Bor­der Free Jazz Vil­lage Cuban pi­ano mae­stro Chu­cho Valdés is a supreme ex­am­ple of that very Latin com­bi­na­tion of virtues which, in more northerly lat­i­tudes, are some­times re­garded as vices: heart-on-thesleeve ro­man­ti­cism and tech­ni­cal machismo. But turn off the chilly Euro­pean dis­dain and Valdés’s end­lessly in­ven­tive play­ing is a balm to jaded ears. His lat­est group, with a nod to Art Blakey’s leg­endary nurs­ery for mu­si­cians, takes up where his equally leg­endary Irakere left off: nur­tur­ing the tal­ents of se­ri­ously gifted per­cus­sion­ists; set­ting the stan­dard for Afro-Cuban jazz; and above all, pro­vid­ing its great­est ex­po­nent with a plat­form for his florid, emo­tion­ally pow­er­ful solo­ing. Blakey alum­nus Bran­ford Marsalis sits in on sax, mak­ing a truth of the al­bum’s ti­tle and a non­sense of the US em­bargo on Cuba. valdes chu­

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