From Cuba: pianist-composer Chucho Valdés

In a career spanning more than 60 years, as a solo artist and bandleader, Jesús “Chucho” Valdés is widely regarded as the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. His music distills elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music and more into a deeply personal style.

Winner of seven Grammy and four Latin Grammy Awards, Valdés has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Science and was inducted in the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2020, Valdés turned 80. After such a milestone, many would just sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Instead, he produced the most ambitious work of his career.
 A three-movement suite for small ensemble, voices and big band, La Creación (The Creation) tells the history of creation according to the Regla de Ocha, the Afro-Cuban religion commonly known as Santería. La Creación had its world premiere on Nov. 5, 2021, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami and was later presented in Lyon, Paris and Barcelona.

Valdés calls La Creación “a summation of all my experiences in music — up to today,” with an emphasis on “today.” “We are working on something else ... I'm just coming into my second adolescence.”

To open the Symphony Presents Jazz season, Valdés will present La Creación, an SCP Jazz co-commission, on Oct. 18.

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