Among the blazing hot stars of Cuban music, none stand taller than the pianist Chucho Valdes — not because he stands 6 foot 6, but because he has flying chops of Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson proportions, because he formed the legendary Irakere big band a quarter century ago with Arturo Sandoval and Paquito Rivera, bringing US jazz under the sway of Cuban sound, because the full catalog of dance rhythms and spirit mysteries under the surface of Cuban music are at his fingertips.
And, perhaps, also because he stayed in Cuba when many others left. Chucho Valdes never defected, never tried to get around the trade embargo to the United States. His music just flew over it, on its own Grammy-winning power. And now in a political thaw, he comes with it. “Brace yourself,” as the New York emcee announced him. “There’s a hurricane approaching from the Caribbean.”
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)