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Bebo Valdés at 88 with Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
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Bebo Valdés at 88 with Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Jazz at Lincoln Center

Bebo Valdés

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Rose Theater
Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Bebo Valdés
And the:
Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O’Farrill
(Arturo O’Farrill Website)

Arturo O’Farrill, Music Director, Piano
Michael Philip Mossman, Trumpet
John Walsh, Trumpet
Jim Seeley, Trumpet
Mike Rodriguez, Trumpet
Luis Bonilla, Trombone
Gary Valente, Trombone
Reynaldo Jorge, Trombone
Douglas Purviance, Bass Trombone
Bobby Porcelli, Alto Saxophone
Erica von Kleist, Alto Saxophone
Pablo Calogero, Baritone Saxophone
Mario Rivera, Tenor Saxophone,
Ivan Renta, Tenor Saxophone
Ruben Rodriguez, Bass
Vince Cherico, Drums
Jimmy Delgado, Percussion
Tony Rosa, Percussion

Scott Thompson and Zooey Tidal: Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 13, 2006

Program (All Compositions by Bebo Valdés):

Selections from:
El Solar de Bebo
Kabul y Lorenzo
El Quitrin
La Mula
La Iballah
Rose Marie
De Baracutey
El Guajeo de Rickard

Suite Cubana (American Premiere)
Är Ni Fröken Pehrson? (Intro)
Cachao – Creador del Mambo
El Son de Cecilio
Copla No. 4
Nocturno en Batanga
Är Ni Froken Pehrson? (Comparsa)

Ramón “Bebo” Valdés, age 88, was, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, a composer, pianist, and bandleader in Cuba. He is also father of the renowned pianist, Jesus “Chucho” Valdes. Valdés performed at Cuba’s Tropicana nightclub as pianist to Cuban and American artists, such as Nat King Cole. Valdés moved to Spain and Sweden, settling in Stockholm in 1963 and retiring in 1990. Thanks to Paquito D’Rivera, Cuban saxophonist, Valdés re-appeared, cut a recording, and became a fixture onstage once again. He has since received Grammys, performing with bassist, Israel “Cachao” Lopez. Suite Cubana was composed between 1992-1997 and includes all forms of Afro-Cuban music, such as mambo, son, guajira. There are tributes included to Valdés’ wife, to Cachao, and to Dizzy Gillespie. (JALC Program Notes, Fernando Gonzalez).

Tonight Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O’Farrill entertained its fans royally, with a two-part concert celebrating the fascinating and dynamic music of the 88 year-old Cuban pianist, Bebo Valdés, who seemed to have just as much energy and focus as the musicians, some probably one-third his age. The high point of the concert was the American premiere of Suite Cubana, which is found on a 2005 Grammy winning recording, on Calle 54 Records, titled, Bebo de Cuba. But, the first half of the program was a Latin piano-orchestral jam down Memory Lane, with Bebo first performing alone at the grand piano in mesmerizing, monumental fashion, his notes clear, crisp, and classically-infused. Soon Arturo O’Farrill brought an ensemble, then additional musicians, and finally, later, the entire orchestra onstage for a series of superb Latin orchestrations with Bebo either at the piano or in a conductor’s chair. At one point, O’Farrill played a special composition that Bebo wrote for his wife, Rose Marie. It exuded warmth, style, and texture.

Bebo Valdés has been an expatriate from Cuba since 1963, when he moved to Stockholm, but his Cuban roots are as alive and accented as ever. During the over two-hour program tonight, Valdés was energized and engaged, as were the musicians and the audience. Solos especially noteworthy were played by John Walsh on trumpet, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Erica von Kleist on alto sax, and the entire percussion section, Vince Cherico, Jimmy Delgado, and Tony Rosa. The shorter pieces included danceable, dreamable music, some evocative of Liszt and some evocative of Lecuona. There was “new classical music”, wild Latin percussion, a bit of Flamenco, and lots of Mambo. Arturo O’Farrill seemed to be having a great time and paid consistent respect and tribute to a mentor and honored colleague.

After intermission (a switch from the program plan), Suite Cubana was introduced and performed, with Bebo in the conductor’s chair and O’Farrill at the piano. However, Bebo moved to the piano bench for one movement of his Suite, and O’Farrill conducted. This eight-movement Suite was seamless and sensational, with each movement having distinct sound and personality. There was Big Band (Valdés was leader of his own Big Band in Cuba, Orquesta Sabor de Cuba), mambo clavé, sultry son, Afro-Cuban, classical atonal, and buoyant brass. The saxes, trumpets, and trombones were in full force, in solo and orchestral fireworks.

Kudos to Bebo Valdés, and kudos to Arturo O’Farrill and JALC’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Check out the Jazz at Lincoln Center website for current and future listings and special events.

Bebo Valdes & ALJO
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Bebo Valdes & ALJO
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at