Jazz Birthdays: Bebo and Chucho | October 9, 2012

Both born on this day, father and son are legends in Cuban music.


bebo_valdes_003 (Photo credit: FOTOSONS.COM)

Bebo Valdes  1918

A “granddad” of Cuban jazz, Bebo studied European and Cuban classical music at the Municipal Conservatory in Havana. After class he took in the music of the Cuban streets, the African-influenced rumba. Then in the early 1930s, he heard American jazz. His influences included Jelly Roll Morton, Tommy Dorsey and Dizzy Gillespie.  He left Cuba in 1960, leaving behind a wife and 5 children, including Chucho.  He ended up in Stockholm with a new family, playing lounge music for tourists.  A 1994 CD, Bebo Rides Again, jump-started the pianist’s career.

FMM2009 - conversa Chucho Valdés

FMM2009 – conversa Chucho Valdés (Photo credit: retorta_net)

Chucho Valdes  1941

Called the “Duke Ellington of Cuba” Chucho Valdes started his first jazz trio at age 16 and founded one of the most influential modern Cuban bands, Irakere.  He’s known as a world-class pianist, and I’m not alone in thinking he’s a musical genius.  His son Chuchito is also a pianist.

In 2000, Bebo and Chucho reunited for the first time in many years.  Their musical reunion was captured in the film Calle 54:


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    A blog about Jazz, Blues, Latin Jazz, New Orleans, musician's stories and more. My name is Robin Lloyd and I've been involved in jazz radio and the music business for over 30 years. This is my personal blog.

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