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Chucho Valdes & The Afro Cuban Messengers

About this Artist

Born in Quivicán, Cuba in 1941, CHUCHO VALDÉS is one of Cuba’s most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho’s illustrious career has also garnered him 6 Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. His most recent win, a 2010 GRAMMY Award for the record Juntos para Siempre, saw him collaborate with his father, Bebo Valdés, a major player on the Cuban jazz scene in his own right.

Chucho Valdés has recorded over eighty CD’s and performed with everybody who is anybody in the world of jazz; from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His reputation as one of the greatest living Cuban jazz pianists has earned him appearances on the great stages in music, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl.

Chucho’s new project with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, which will tour in October 2010, marks Chucho’s return to the US for the first time in 7 years.


Mayra Caridad Valdés vocals is one of the more intense and versatile voices in contemporary Cuban Latin jazz. Born in 1956 to Bebo Valdés, a legendary Cuban jazz pianist, Mayra studied at the National Art School in Cuba and graduated in 1975 with a degree in choral music. In 1980, Harry Belafonte invited her to perform with him at his concert in Cuba. This was the beginning of her professional career as a vocalist. She toured Japan and Europe as a solo vocalist and as a member of numerous groups including Irakere, a group she permanently joined in 1994, and also in her brother Chucho Valdés' quartet. Mayra has shared the stage with international figures such as Gladys Knight, Flora Purim and Tania María. In 2002, she released her debut solo album, La Diosa del Mar, a collection of Afro-Cuban jazz standards and traditional folkloric songs. Her second CD Obatalá Estoy Aquí, was nominated for the Cubadisco Prize 2008.

Lázaro Rivero Alarcón bass was born in Manicaragua, Cuba in 1966. In 1982, he entered The National Art School where he studied clarinet and contrabass. In 1996, he joined the group Otra Vision directed by the flautist and composer Orlando Valle Maraca and performed in numerous jazz festivals throughout Europe. As an instrumentalist he has participated in Pa los Malos Ojos and Malembe together with Carlos del Puerto, Tata Guines, Emilio del Monte, and Roberto Vizcaino, among many other projects. Since 2000, as a member of the Chucho Valdés Jazz Quartet, he has toured more than 20 countries. Lázaro records for the Blue Note label, sharing discography projects and the stage with international figures such as: Bebo Valdés, Concha Buika and Michel Legrand. He has recorded Color de la Vida with Charles Aznavour, Obatala with Mayra Caridad Valdés and El Ultimo Trago with Concha Buika.

Juan Carlos Rojas Castro drums graduated with honors with a degree in percussion from Cuba's National Art School of Music in 1982. That same year, he began his professional career in the Santa Clara´s Modern Music Orchestra in Villa Clara, his home town. Juan Carlos has performed with prestigious Cuban groups: Varadero International Orchestra, All Stars Orchestra with Tata Guines, Frank Emilio, Richard Egúes, and Omara Portuondo, among others. As a member of the group Otra Vision from 1995 to 2006, he participated in various recordings including La habana llama with Miguel Diaz Anga and Habana Flauta with Jane Brunet, among others. Juan Carlos has toured the U.S., Europe and Canada together with Wynton Marsalis and his orchestra. In 2006, he joined the Chucho Valdés Jazz Quartet and appeared at such prestigious musical events as the Sevilla International Festival (Spain), Cape Town Jazz Festival (South Africa), The Blue Note Jazz Festival (Milan, Italy), Orleans Jazz Festival (France), Canaries Jazz Festival (Spain), among many others. His work as instrumentalist has been reviewed in the magazines Jazz Hot and in different editions of Latin Beat Magazine in the U.S. The author of a percussion method based on the mixing of drums and timbales, Juan Carlos has taught percussion in Europe, the U.S., and South America.

Yaroldy Abreu Robles percussion was born in Sagua de Tanamo, Cuba. He started his professional career in Holguin in 1995 with the group Agua and then went on to form the experimental percussion ensemble Cinco Puntos. He graduated with honors with a bachelor's degree in percussion from the Higher Institute of Art in 2001. While Yaroldy was still a student, Chucho Valdés invited him to join his group Irakere and in 2001, the Chucho Valdés Jazz Quartet. Yaroldy has shared the stage and recorded with many musicians inside and outside of Cuba: Muñequitos de Matanzas, Roberto Vizcaino, Jose Luis Cortes, David Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mañenguito (Puerto Rico), Wynton Marsalis, Chico Freeman, Dave Valentin, Sonny Rollings, Michel Camilo and Arturo Sandoval (U.S.) and Tania Maria (Brazil). In 2003, Yaroldy was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Traditional Tropical Album for Amadito Valdés' Bajando Gervasio; and in 2004 he won the Latin Grammy Award in the Latin jazz category for Chucho Valdés Jazz Quartet's New Conceptions. A valued teacher, Yaroldy has been invited to teach master classes in Europe and the U.S., and at various music festivals throughout the world.

Dreiser Durruthy Bambolé batá drum and vocals was born in Guantánamo in 1977. In 1994, he toured France with the French Young Ballet, as part of an exchange program between Cuba and France. In 1997, he entered the Higher Institute of Art in Cuba, where he graduated with a degree in dramatic arts in 2004. He toured the world from 2003 to 2006 with the Carlos Acosta Company. Dreiser appeared in the CD Afrocuban Jazz Project with Orlando Maraca Valle and with the Cuba Jazz Sanchez in the CD Semos. In 2007, he worked with Lady Salsa Company and toured Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Japan, England, South Africa, Germany, Belarus and Australia. In 2009, Dreiser joined Valdés´ Afro-Cuban Messengers Band and recorded the CD Chucho´s Steps, where he both sings and plays the batás.

Carlos Manuel Miyares Hernandez tenor saxophone was born in 1980 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba and started his music studies at the age of seven at the Vocational School of Arts, where he initially studied piano, but then switched to saxophone after four years. He went on to study with Julio Cesar Gonzalez at the Esteban Salas Conservatory, graduating in 1999. Carlos has appeared at various festivals throughout the world and has toured Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Scotland, Luxemburg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, and Austria. Selected discography: Chucho’s Steps (Chucho Valdés), Puertas Liuba (Maria Hevia), Full Time (Jorge Chicoy), Columpio (Coro Diminuto), Amaray (Ricardo Amaray), Sentimiento (Francis del Río), Beat Cubano (Manolito Simonet). He has collaborated with Alexis Bosch, Pasaje Abierto, David Álvarez, Juego de Manos, Chala Cubana, Carlos Varela, and many others.

Reinaldo Melián Álvarez trumpet was born in 1960 and graduated from Cuba's National Art School in 1982. He gave trumpet lessons at the Music School of Pinar del Rio from 1982 to 1985, simultaneously working with the Cuban popular music band Ireme, with which he went on tour to Russia, Angola and Tunes. He participated in the recording of musical tracks for films and TV series such as En Silencio ha tenido que Ser and El Regreso de David. In 1985, he joined Gupo Proyecto, a jazz band directed by pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Working with the band until 1997, he traveled worldwide to various festivals including the Montreal Festival, the Vancouver Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Netherlands), San Sebastián Festival (Spain), Mont Fugi Festival (Tokyo), and others in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Finland, Russia, Luxembourg, Brazil, Italy, and Norway. Reinaldo has performed at the Blue Note clubs in New York, Tokyo, Osaka, the Yoshi Club in San Francisco, and the Ronnie Scotch in London. During this period, and as part of Rubalcaba´s band, he participated in the following projects: Giraldilla, Mi Gran Pasión, and 4 y 20. From 1997 to 2009 he worked with Orlando Maraca Valle´s Band Otra Vision. In 2009, he joined Chucho Valdés and the Afro Cuban Jazz Messengers and recorded Chucho´s Steps with the band.