Chucho Valdes In Free Jazz Journey Concert, Nov. 19

Oct 19, 2012

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation will present the legendary Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes and his band in a free Jazz Journey concert at the Joy Theater on Monday, Nov. 19.

The concert is the latest in a longstanding concert series from the Foundation that has brought many of the world's top jazz musicians to New Orleans.

Chucho Valdes is one of the world's foremost jazz pianists, and a legend in his native Cuba.

Growing up in a musical household, Valdes began his training at age 5, and by age 15 had formed his first jazz group. Valdes's father is the famed Cuban pianist and bandleader Bebo Valdés.  

In 1970, Valdes became one of the first Cubans of the modern era to lead a group at an international festival (in Poland), and he soon enjoyed a reputation as one of the world's premier pianists, along with the likes of Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

It was in 1972 that he co-founded the group Irakere (which also included the legends Arturo Sandoval on trumpet and Paquito d'Rivera on woodwinds). Their fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with popular dance music and modern jazz defined a sound whose influence is still heard around the world. An album recorded live at the Newport and Montreux jazz festivals led to a Grammy award for Irakere in 1978.

Although d'Rivera and Sandoval defected to the United States, Valdes has remained a resident of Cuba, where he is revered as a national treasure — the Duke Ellington of his country.

In 2006, he was named a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Opening the concert will be Alexey Marti, a young Cuban percussionist who is studying in the jazz program at the University of New Orleans.


  • The fifth annual Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival, Nov. 10-11 in Armstrong Park, featuring the Dirty Dozen, the Soul Rebels, the Hot 8 and many more brass
  • Jazz Journey concert featuring the singers Gregory Porter and Barbara Morrison plus the trumpeter Porgy Jones, Jan. 18 at Dillard University's Lawless Memorial Chapel.
  • The Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, March 23-24 in Armstrong Park, featuring music from Africa, the Caribbean and the Gulf South - and the second annual Class Got Brass competition.
  • The 15th annual Jazz & Heritage Gala, featuring a tribute to the Glass House, the legendary club that hosted many of New Orleans most famous brass bands.