Bebo De Cuba was co-produced by Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba, whose stylish 2000 Miramax documentary and live music film CALLE 54 brought a wide range of jazz-influenced Latin music styles to the big screen for the first time, and Nat Chediak, Cuban music historian and founder of the Miami Film Festival. The production features Valds fronting a full big band on one CD, Suite Cubana and a smaller ensemble on the other, El Solar de Bebo. Both sessions feature a veritable who's who of the Latin jazz world, including musicians who've risen to prominence in the service of such fabled leaders as Arturo Chico" O'Farrill, Mario Bauza, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and other Cuban and Puerto Rican music icons. They include Paquito D'! Rivera, tenor saxophonist Mario Rivera, bassist Andy Gonzalez, drummers Steve Berrios and Dafnis Prieto, trumpeters Diego Urcola and Michael Philip Mossman, percussionist Milton Cardona, and the late trombonist Juan Pablo Torres. The companion 23-minute DVD, New York Notebook, complements the music through interviews with Valds conducted in the studio of Miami's WDNA Public Radio Station, video vignettes of the still spry pianist reminiscing while he walks the streets of Manhattan, interacting with the musicians, conducting the groups, and playing piano.
In November, Mr. Valds played to 6 sold-out dates at New York's famed jazz club, Village Vanguard. The last three performances were recorded for a Live album on Calle 54 Records. The celebrated label plans to release two other Bebo Valds recordings in the Fall 2006.
Bebo De Cuba was recently awarded a Latin GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album.
There is a hardly a figure alive who embodies the past and present of Afro-Cuban music with more authority than Mr. Valds. He came of age during a period of rapid musical change, when Cuban and American music intermingled in powerful ways." -Larry Blumenfeld, The Wall Street Journal
Imposingly tall, with big hands to form clean, strong octaves, Mr. Valds projected an entirely different feeling in the club than his son, Chucho Valds, who has played there many times. The younger's playing, fast and fierce, can grow nearly demonic. The elder, onstage with only the Spanish bassist Javier Colina, treated Tuesday night's single set with easy grace, as if he were playing for a roomful of friends." -Ben Ratliff, The New York Times (Concert review: Pianist's Understated History Lesson, November 10, 2005)
Bebo hasn't lived in Cuba for more than 40 years, and even though the 87-year old pianist-arranger vows never to return, on the DVD doc that accompanies this two-disc set, his formidable skills recall his place at the very top of the music scene in pre-Castro Havana." -K. Leander Williams, Time Out New York
Ramon Bebo" Valds who turned 87 on October 9, has been making up for lost time with the verve of a man half his age. More importantly, he's been doing it while bringing to the table the rarest combination of musical knowledge, wisdom, and grace." -Fernando Gonzalez, Jazziz
On Bebo De Cuba he gives us more: a profound and profoundly enjoyable set of music. It is sophisticated in the best sense of the word, intelligent, gracious, with a vivid and appreciative sense of music's wonders, as graceful and powerful and rhythmically acute as a great dancer." -Jordan Levin, Miami Herald
All About Jazz reviews Bebo De Cuba.