Hailed as revolutionary in Latin jazz, The New Cuban Express, will have city audience tapping their feet this weekend
When you think of Cuban or Latin jazz, the closest a layman has gotten to that is the elevator muzak in a hotel. But when you listen to Manuel Valera, you’ll react in the exact opposite way you would to muzak – turning your full undivided attention towards the flow of grooves and the time-signatures that leave feet tapping. Valera and his band, The New Cuban Express, perform in Bangalore from September 6 to September 8 at Windmills Craftworks in Whitefield.
And of course, if you’re a jazz fan, the New York-based Cuban pianist’s music is likely to get you moving, considering his latest offering, New Cuban Express, was nominated at the 2013 Grammy Awards in the Best Latin Jazz Album category. Deservingly so, considering the album is a heady mix of elements that critics have hailed as revolutionary in Latin jazz.
“When we came up with the idea of the New Cuban Express, the goal was to come with a modern take on Cuban bands that were very popular in the 70s and 80s such as Irakere, AfroCuba and the work of Emiliano Salvador and Timba,” says Valera in an e-mail exchange.
A gifted performer Valera says this band is the very first project where he focused on Cuban Music. He adds: “Most of my other projects touched upon it but Cuban Music was not the focus. I think what makes this project a bit different from the other Latin Jazz groups out there is that it is a groove band with interesting compositions and solos.”
Valera has been playing with The New Cuban Express band for the past two years, but he says, “I've been collaborating with all the members for over 10 years in different projects. In addition, we are all great friends so the relationship goes deeper than the music.”
The New Cuban Express comprises Yosvany Terry on Saxophone and Chekere, Ludwig Afonso on drums and Hans Glawisching on bass. Valera gushes about his bandmates saying, “I consider all of them masters of their instruments. As a composer it’s a pleasure to have my music performed by them!”
In turn, Valera does have a bit of advice for prospective jazz musicians across the world. He says, “I think it is really important for young musicians to play and learn from their elders. In jazz, we do this by way of being a sideman (playing in other people’s bands). I’ve had the great opportunity to play and learn from a lot of my heroes.”
This won’t be the first time India has noticed and called upon Valera, though.
Back in March, the pianist was visiting as a faculty member at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music and played a show at Windmills Craftworks at the time. Valera says it’s the most memorable tour he’s been on this year.
“I think the most interesting place (in the world) we have gone so far is Bangalore. This is my first time taking my band to Asia. I’m really excited about it.” He adds: “We are hoping to see the city. The last time I was there we didn’t really get a chance to do that because of time constraints.”
Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express plays at Windmills Craftworks on September 6, 7, and 8, from 8 p.m. onwards.
Windmills Craftworks, 331 Road, 5B EPIP Zone, Whitefield
For further information and reservation: + 91 80 25692012 /+ 91 7259024652
Tickets available on: bookmyshow.com and at the venue