Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bebo Valdés live at the Village Vanguard

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Latin legend Tito Puente and the release of The Complete 78's, Vol. 1. While Tito unfortunately passed away back in 2000, another huge figure in the field of Cuban jazz remains: Bebo Valdés. While probably not as familiar to the general populace as Puente, Valdés was just as influential to Cuban jazz, specifically in the development of the mambo, through his contributions with his piano. Perhaps I should amend that to is just as influential, as even at the age of 89, he's still going strong and releasing new material.

His latest (out yesterday) is a live recording from November 2005 at the renowned Village Vanguard in New York City. Accompanying him in the performance is one man only: bassist Javier Colina. The pair, one on piano and the other on bass, produce a surprisingly complete sound without apparently exerting themselves to do so. The two instruments provide wonderful counter-punctual texture that work together and off one another, but never at odds with each other.

The two of them slowly and thoroughly make their way through fourteen tracks, including a combination of original Valdes compositions, some traditional classics, and a closing cover of the Bill Evans number Waltz for Debby, which was originally recorded on the very same stage forty four years before. Listen to the entire album and you'll even hear the crowd get into a few numbers. Here are a few tracks to wet your whistle until you pick up the whole thing, which is available now.

Visit his label Calle 54 Records.


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