Few families have left a so strong and transcendental legacy in our culture like the one starred by the Valdes inside the Cuban music spectrum. Names like Vicentico Valdés, Bebo Valdés, Chucho Valdés, Lazaro and Lazarito Valdés, Oscar and Oscarito Valdés and Mayra Caridad Valdes, among others, confirm that exceptional phenomenon. On this opportunity our main interest is establishing some of the most visible connections between a father and a son of this sound caste, I mean Bebo (father) and Chucho (junior).
Those magic bonds that were forming between them began with the arrival of both to this world, because they were born on the same date, October 9th, just one in 1918 and the other one in 1941, in the same place, the picturesque town of Quivican, today Mayabeque province. From the rest a so universal and insuperable instrument has been in charge like the piano, where their ambitions, interests and innovations have coincided in an amazing way.
These four blessed hands to transform and enrich the sound register of the island, during more than seven decades they have reached to treasure one of the most perdurable heritages of our identity. The two musicians understood that the real strength and the reach of their creations should be based on such questions like Who are we? Where our gifts come from? The complex and real exceptional consists on changing the responses to such questions in a music of so many aesthetic standards able to dialog with the audience from any part of the planet and to open new and fertile ways for the contemporary culture.
If we start with Bebo, also known like the magician of the Cuban rhythms, we discover that among his merits are stood out to be one of the greatest precursors of the jazz-Afrocuban, so as being the creator a rhythm known as La Batanga, which in the 50s reached an extraordinary success. In the 40s he had composed some remarkable mambos like La rareza del siglo. He worked over a decade at the famous Tropicana Cabaret, and he was into innumerable jazz moments, so as recordings and presentations of international stars like Lucho Gatica and Nat King Cole.
During 1960 in the middle of a tour he stayed in Switzerland, being away from the musical world for around three decades, it was in 1994 due to the insistence of his friend Paquito D’Rivera, who decided to make the record Bebo Rides Again.
Amazingly the XXI century, with an older age the huge success of his career will knock at his door, the producer and filmmaker Fernando Trueba would come to his life to record eight records and to star in four films.
About his son Chucho its almost everything said, we’ve had the privilege to enjoy one and over again the great pleasure of his talent. While I’m writing the images of those glorious years of Irakere don’t stop to come into my mind, and the first time that I listened to that enormous song called Misa Negra. From Bebo he inherited too many things, among them the mastery, a very big size of his sound concepts, the splendid digestion that he got to make of the Afrocubans elements, the freedom between a hand and the other one at the time of playing, situation that makes him execute incredible interpretations, and the virtuous personality that took him to be considered among the five best jazz pianists in the planet.
From both of them…
After too many years of separation, in this century already, the fruitful reunion between them happens, that’s at the end crowned in a magical way in 2008 with the recording of the CD Juntos para siempre, which I consider to my point of view a spurt of affection and at the same time very virtuous, which some mythological songs are included like Lágrimas negras, Sabor a mí, La Gloria eres tú and others that refer to themselves, such as Preludio para Bebo, composed by Chucho in honour of his father, A Chucho y Descarga Valdés, I think that mainly this album constitutes a clear testimony of those connections that I talk about.
As a finale we can say that about two years before Bebo’s death (2013), his son went to Benalmádena (Malaga), where he lived to accompany him at the end of his life and to recover a little the time that they had lost about being together. So two glories were getting closer again who knew to make of their creations a successful trip from the popular to the classic. Between these two great musicians got a cabinet that’s close to the respectable figure of twenty Grammy awards. The most faithful music lovers around here feel very proud of being their partners.