Chucho Valdéz comes to Three Stages on Nov. 13. Courtesy photo


Jazz master comes to Three Stages

By From page B3 | November 05, 2012

Hailed as “the dean of Latin jazz” and “one of the world’s great virtuosic pianists” (New York Times), five-time Grammy Award winner Chucho Valdés has recorded more than 80 CDs during his illustrious career.

The Chucho Valdés Quintet performs on Three Stages’ Stage One on Nov. 13. 

“Whether Chucho Valdés is performing a gentle ballad or a rousing foot-stomper, his joy in playing and his love of the music always shines through. He can tickle the ivories with the soft grace of Bill Evans and dazzle with the thunderous dexterity of Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson.” — All About Jazz

“Chucho Valdés is a seminal figure in Cuban music, and the ensemble he founded, Irakere, is legendary,” Three Stages Executive Director Dave Pier said. “We welcome Mr. Valdés to Three Stages.”

For his Three Stages performance, the pianist will be joined by Yaroldy Abreu Robles, congas; Dreiser Durruty Bambole, bata; Rodney Barreto, drums; and Gaston Joya, bass.

Dionisio Jesús “Chucho” Valdés Rodríguez has performed all over the world in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Centre and the Hollywood Bowl and has shared the stage with such musical luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Billy Taylor, Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Brandford and Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Grover  Washington Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Taj Mahal, and Tito Puente to name a few.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1941, the pianist, composer, arranger, band leader and music professor began his musical life at home under the direction of his parents: his mother Pilar Rodríguez, a singer and piano teacher, and his father, the great Bebo Valdés.

At 3 years old, Chucho could already play the melodies he heard on the radio by ear using both hands in any key. And at age 5, Chucho began piano, theory and solfège lessons with professor Oscar Muñoz Boufartique, finishing his studies at the Municipal Music Conservatory of Havana at the age of 14. All the while taking private lessons in piano and composition with such noted teachers as Zenaida Romeu, Rosario Franco, Federico Smith and Leo Brouwer.

At the age of 15 he formed his first Jazz Trio with Emilio del Monte and Luis Rodríguez and went on to work as pianist in the Deauville and St. John Hotels in Havana and played with the “Sabor de Cuba” Orchestra directed by his father, accompanying important singers of the time like Rolando Laserie, Fernando Alvarez and Pio Leyva.

Between1961 and 1963 he worked as pianist at the Martí Theatre, International Salon of the Havana Riviera Hotel and at the Musical Theatre of the Havana Orchestra. At Leo Brouwer recommendation, he simultaneously created his Combo that in 1965 added the singer Amado Borcela, better known as “Guapachá”, paving the way for a new era of Cuban Popular Music. This Combo was like Irakere´s preamble where many of the founders came together. In 1967 he started with the Cuban Modern Music Orchestra under the direction of Armando Romeu and Rafael Somavilla, and became the group leader before long. In 1970 he debuted his Combo in a quintet format at the Jamboree International Jazz Festival in Poland, marking the first time a Cuban group participated in a jazz festival abroad and giving Chucho international recognition as one of the 5 greatest piano players in the world along with Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

In 1972 after recording the LP “Jazz Bata” with Carlos del Puerto and Oscar Valdés, Chucho decided to add a brass section and drums to his Combo.  It was then, in 1973, that he founded Irakere, widely recognized as the most important group in Cuban Musical history in the second half of 20th century.  An explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban Music, Irakere produced a sound that had never been heard before, that revolutionized Latin music.

In 2006, in a ceremony held at the Vatican, Chucho was named Good Will Ambassador by the Food and Agricultural Association of the United Nations and gives annual benefit concerts in Havana every Oct. 16 — World Food Day.

In 2009 he formed “Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messenger”.  The group tours internationally and recorded Chucho’s most recent release, “Chucho’s Steps” (2011).

Chucho Valdés Quintet  will perform in Three Stagesat 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Tickets are $19 to $29 with premium tickets at $39; students with ID get in for $12. Tickets may be purchased online at or from Three Stages ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Three Stages is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.

Press Release


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