Chucho Valdes

Courtesy of the artist

The Latin Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences announced thier nominees for the 20th Annual Latin Grammy Awards today, with good news for pop-flamenco powerhouse Rosalía and pop star Alejandro Sanz. They're among a handful of Spanish artists who dominate this year's nominations, as observed by NPR's Felix Contreras in a piece for alt.Latino.

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As the Cuban maestro prepares for BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! on Wednesday, here's the story behind his influential project Jazz Batá.

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It's hard to overstate the importance of both Bebo Valdes and Chico O'Farrill to Afro-Cuban jazz and Cuban music in general.

Valdes, who died in 2013 at age 94, was winning Grammys and Latin Grammys for his music right up near the end of his life. One contemporary Cuban pianist called him "the entire history of Cuban piano."

Motema

Arturo O’Farrill makes music steeped in the pantheon of Afro-Latin culture. He can’t help it. It’s in his DNA.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


It's impossible to overstate the importance of both Bébo Valdés and Chico O'Farrill to 20th century Afro-Cuban music and jazz.

Their rich and multi layered influence is evident in iconic compositions, big band arrangements written 60 years ago that still sound cutting edge, and piano playing that echo Cuban classical music and jazz pianist Bill Evans.

Steve Mundinger / Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

HAVANA, Cuba — Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba sat at a pair of grand pianos on Sunday night at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonzo, during the sixth annual International Jazz Day Global Concert, and modeled more than one kind of equilateral exchange.