Chucho Valdés: Irakere 50

6:00 pm
Sunday, June 2, 2024

Chucho Valdés: Irakere 50 is a celebration of Irakere, the Cuban band that, with its bold fusion of Afro-Cuban ritual music, Cuban popular music styles, jazz and rock, marked a before and after in Latin jazz.

Iraqere came to international attention thanks to Dizzy Gillespie, who was visiting Havana on a jazz cruise in 1977. The following year, producer Bruce Lundvall, then president of CBS, went to Cuba on Dizzy's advice, heard the band live and signed it. The same year, Irakere debuted, without warning, as “surprise guests” at Carnegie Hall as part of the Newport Jazz Festival. Selections from that performance were later included on Irakere (CBS), the band's US debut recording. The album won a Grammy for Best Latin Recording in 1979. Irakere's innovative sound forever changed the landscape of Cuban music and influenced generations of musicians to follow. While members like Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval came and went, Chucho he remained with Irakere until 2005. Through the many changes the band experienced over the years, he remained the one essential constant. In 2015, Chucho celebrated the 40th anniversary of the birth of Irakere, his iconic band, with a world tour.

Tribute to Irakere: Live in Marciac (Jazz Village/Comanche Music), which captured a performance on that tour, won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2016.A springboard for Chucho's Grammy-winning band Afro-Cuban Messengers, Irakere 50 is both a retrospective of his celebrated career and a showcase for a fiery new generation of Cuban talent.

Chucho says: “When I decided to do a tribute to that wonderful band, I also decided that I did not want to do it with the founding members but with musicians from the generations of musicians who grew up and learned from Irakere. I thought it would be more meaningful. It is a tribute from one generation to another.”

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