With Chucho Valdés, the House of World Cultures (HKW) brings a legend of the Cuban music scene onto its stage on 25 November 2022. The pianist and composer Jesus “Chucho” Valdés, who has won six Grammys, draws an extraordinary summary of an extraordinary career in The Creation. The suite for big band, Afro-Cuban percussion and vocals tells the creation story according to the Regla de Ocho, the Afro-Cuban religion known as Santería.
Image above: Chucho Valdés, Foto: OCP Photography Miami
Chucho Valdés went down in the history of Cuban music as the founder, bandleader, main composer and arranger of the group Irakere. In the 1970s, the band revolutionised Latin jazz with its fusion of rock, jazz and Afro-Cuban music. Valdés had already experienced the beginning of his musical career in the orchestra of his father, the pianist and arranger Bebo Valdés.
“La Creación brings together all my experiences and everything I have learned in music,” says Valdés, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2021. If he left the large ensembles behind with Irakere, he now returns to big band sounds with La Creación – but “with the experience of the path that led me here”.
La Creación revolves around themes Valdés has explored in works such as Irakeres La Misa Negra (1987), an early milestone, and Canto a Dios (2011), a recent composition that fuses jazz with symphonic music. The Catholic religion and the Regla de Ocha have coexisted in Cuba for centuries. Whether as a survival strategy or simply as an adaptation to a new context, the orishas, the Afro-diasporic deities, took on the characteristics of Catholic saintly figures there early on. “Canto a Dios looks at certain themes from the perspective of the Catholic faith,” says Valdés. “La Creación, on the other hand, focuses on Olodumare, the creation deity in the Yoruba universe. This is the other part of my roots, my family and my history.” The sonic palette of this new work includes elements of ritual Santería music, African music, the blues and something Valdés himself describes as “an atmosphere in the style of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew”. “This work is very important to me,” Valdés concludes. “I think it is my masterpiece – so far.”
concert dates: Friday, 25: November 2022 08:00 p.m.
Tickets: € 32 / € 26 reduced
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