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SpanishEnglishInterviews & Reviews - CD Review: Chuchito Valdes Live

CD Review:  Live In Chicago by Chuchito Valdes
Music Roots Records 2012

     We have observed more than once that live concert experiences frequently have an energy level that is missing from many studio projects, and well-made recordings of live concerts usually help prove the point.  Live In Chicago was released this year but is a 2-CD recording of a 2009 concert at what was originally called The Morse Theatre in Chicago.  That venue suffered a fire, and after remodeling, it became The Mayne Stage, which is now one of Chicago's most prominent venues for Cuban music and Latin Jazz.   This is a quartet performance featuring Chuchito Valdes, piano; Bryan Doherty, bass; Ruben Alvarez, drums and Frankie Ocasio, congas. Chuchito is the son of Chucho Valdes and the grandson of Bebo Valdes, and he is continuing the family dynasty of prominent pianists.  
     When he is performing with small combos, as he does here, Chuchito's concerts usually take the listener through a wide range of both the Jazz and Cuban standard songbooks, and this recording, which was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY in the Best Latin Jazz Album category, is no exception.  There are Jazz standards such as Take The A Train and Bye Bye Blackbird as well as Cuban standards such as Almendra and Besame Mucho (on this recording, the audience sings Besame Mucho along with the group).  There are also some nice descargas. Although Chuchito has recorded some very nice Timbajazz at other points in his career, the repertoire in this outing is more traditional.  
     The song list is quite familiar, and the thing that makes this album worth listening to is the execution by the musicians. Chuchito is a very physical performer - some critics have recently argued about whether he might be too physical, and this has resulted in some bad jokes about the safety of pianos when he is in town- and he frequently brings his own distinctive "wall of sound" to otherwise-mundane material.  In this recording, for example, his version of Take The A-Train  is memorable for the variations that he applies to the piece.
     It is this writer's hope that Live In Chicago will inspire similar live recording projects in Chicago and, for that matter, other cities.   The energy added by a live audience more than compensates for a slight loss of technical audio perfection.

Track List

Disc 1:

1. Son Montuno
2. La Comparsa
3. Somewheere Over the Rainbow
4. Capullito
5. Danzon de Nina
6. Bossa Para Ti
7. Bye Bye Blackbird
8. Guaguanco Montuno

Disc 2:

1. Almendra
2. Besame Mucho
3. Bebo Latin Jazz
4. Take the A Train
5. Africa
6. Descarga a la Cubana

Sunday, 18 November 2012, 11:42 AM