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Chucho Valdés talks with Bobby Sanabria about his “La Creación” suite

Chucho Valdés
Chucho Valdés.

Pianist, composer and bandleader Chucho Valdés celebrates his 81st birthday on October 9 (a birthday he shares with his father Bebo Valdés), but he is not resting on his laurels. For the last month or so Valdés has been presenting his large scale work—La Creación (The Creation)—a three-movement suite for small ensemble, voices and big band that tells the history of creation according to the Santeria tradition. According to the program notes, the pieces include elements of Santería ritual music, African music, the blues, and what Valdés describes as “an atmosphere in the style of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew." He adds, “This new work represents the accumulation of all my experiences and everything I’ve learned in music…I think it’s my masterpiece—so far.”

Here's a short clip from a performance of the piece in Paris:

Chucho Valdés plays his own La Creación

This remarkable piece, featuring the Yoruban Orchestra with musical direction from keyboardists Hilario Duran and John Beasley, has already been performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ and the Monterey Jazz Festival, and will be presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center on October 7-8 and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on October 16.

The preeminent Cuban bandleader, who led the band Irakere for many years, talked with WBGO’s Bobby Sanabria about the suite and his creative process. The interview was conducted in Spanish and English. Watch here:

Chucho Bobby

Bobby Sanabria is an eight time Grammy-nominee as a leader, drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, documentary film producer, educator, activist, and bandleader. A native son of the South Bronx born to Puerto Rican parents, he has performed and recorded with such legends as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Dizzy Gillespie, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Cándido, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá.