Chucho is Cuba’s most legendary jazz musician and the most versatile jazz musician worldwide, according to specialised critics. It is said that he can play the most complex traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms, while also performing the classics with a polished technique. But above all, he is a great maestro of jazz.
A musical director and composer, Chucho has contributed to reformulating Cuban jazz, structuring it around African rhythms which confer this music a unique authenticity. His contributions as a pianist —under the influence of Thelonious Monk— have been a crucial part of a musical genre that unquestionably has its own voice: Cuban jazz.
He won his first Grammy in 1987 with the group Irakere, of which he was the bandleader, with the record Misa Negra. As a solo artist he has won 5 Grammy Awards and 3 Latin Grammy Awards. He has also been nominated for 17 other accolades, testament to his immense musical talent.
His undeniable talent has taken him to the most illustrious stages, at times performing as a jazz musician, and at times performing classical works —by Lecuona, Chopin, Debussy and Ravel— but nevertheless, always creating a high quality more popular music that makes people want to dance.
Among his most memorable experiences are playing the piano at only 7 years of age for the great Cuban pianist and composer Ernesto Lecuona. “He was a friend of dad’s; I didn’t know who he was. Dad told me to play something for him and I played.”
Chucho Valdés and his father Bebo were both awarded an honorary degree by the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.