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Bebop Spoken There

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers + Ibrahim Maalouf @ The Barbican.

Chucho Valdés (pno), Mayra Valdés (vcl), Lazaro Alarcon (bs), Juan Castro (dms), Yaroldy Robles (perc), Dreiser Bambolé (bata drum/vcl), Carlos Hernandez (ten), Reinaldo Alvarez (tpt/flg).
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Ibrahim Maalouf (tpt), Nenad Gajin (gtr), Frank Woeste (Rhodes), Xavier Roger (dms), Benjamin Molinaro (bs).
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They stood up and applauded wildly and justifiably so. If one man and one band deserved a standing ovation it was Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers.
This was Harlem meets Havana - a Cuban Jazz Carnival.
The two horns provided the Messenger content and both would have been at home in any of Art Blakey's ensembles. They dug in and blew hard bop over the most pulsating rhythm section I'm ever likely to hear. In Hernandez you have tenor player who can hold his head high with the best of them - eat your heart out Mr Lloyd!
Alvarez too could swing as well as being beautifully lyrical on flugel.
The various percussionists gave the beat and a lot more conjuring up a variety of sounds from their armoury.
As for the leader well, he simply held it all together as well as chipping in with some wildly extravagent and exciting solos. Mayra Valdés was used sparingly revealing a powerful and emotive voice but it was Bambolé who took most of the vocals in-between Bata drumming.
It was great night as I knew it would be from the moment Alarcon kicked things off with a pizzicato bowed bass solo. Earlier on the French Arabian trumpet player's quintet got the ball rolling with a set that was, by his own admission more rock than jazz. Strangely, a section of the audience applauded that announcement!
Ibrahim Maalouf is a good trumpet player with a big fat sound and a band that at times really did rock the rafters - if they have rafters at the Barbican. However, there were too many deep reflective moments for my personal taste. Nevertheless the crowd liked it so who am I to complain?
A fitting and satisfactory end to my mini London Jazz Festival
On the free stage the Younger Zen (pictured right) had set the ball rolling with a brilliant set. Wade Austin (steel pan), Konrad Foster (bs. gtr), Siemy Diengue (dms). Playing sax in the Chilli Road Band, as I do, I thought I knew a bit about steel pans but never had I heard them played like this! Wade Austin plays runs that any sax, trumpet, guitar player would be proud of - if they could manage them! Add chords and contrapuntal lines and he becomes a keyboard/vibes player - amazing! I just wished the steel panners of my acquaintance could have been here!
Lance.

2 comments :

Ron A said...

I agree 100% with you Lance, as you know I'm a great Chucho fan and attended the very same concert at the Barbican on Thursday gone.Having visited Cuba earlier this year (including a couple of nights in a Havana Jazz Club) we could not wait to hear those fantastic cuban sounds again, being played live that is!
The solo piano he played was absolutely astounding,the band was exceptional and it was one of the best concerts I am are likely to experiance. I never understood why Chucho avoided my jazz listening radar until about 4 years ago!Such a talent!!!!!!!

Ron Ainsborough

Lance said...

Hey Ron wish I'd known you were there - it was quite amazing.

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