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Border-Free - Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers

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About Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés and his new album BORDER-FREE

In the eight pieces that comprise this album -- all but one originals -- the lines that define the limits of traditions and styles blur and disappear. There are nods to flamenco and the Gnawa music of Morocco, but also to the ritual rhythms of the Orishas, the deities of the Afro-Cuban ... Read more in Amazon's Chucho Valdes Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Border-Free - Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers + Chucho's Steps - Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers + Omara & Chucho [CD/DVD Limited Luxury Edition]
Price For All Three: £30.57

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 May 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Jazz Village
  • ASIN: B00B7TRZ92
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,228 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

JV 570016; JAZZ VILLAGE; Pop Internazionale

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Just do it! on 25 May 2013
Format: Audio CD
I was at Ronnie Scott's (in April 2013) when Chucho and the Afro-Cuban Messengers were releasing this clever album in the UK. Having listened to CHUCHO'S STEPS countless times, this album is indeed a fitting follow up which builds on the remains of the band's first work (just listen to the PEACE PIECE inspired PILAR and contrast it to DANZON...)
If you can catch these guys live in your neighborhood, please do not hesitate. If you can't, at least you will have this album (and their first one) as a consolation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Baron on 16 Feb. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Last November, 2013, I saw Chucho Valdes and the Afro Cuban Messengers In Cartagena, Spain, That night they opened the concert with the first track of this CD "Congadanza"; a fast, exilarating Latin piece that spotlights Chucho`s prodigious technique.
The CD is mainly a piano trio with two additional percussionist; trumpet and tenor sax are heard on only three or four tracks. The second track on the CD is "Caridad Amaro", a slower melodic Latin piece which, after the restatement of the melody, leads into an extended quote from Rachmaninov`s Second Piano Concerto.
"Bebo" is dedicated to Chucho`s father Bebo Valdes and is a more conventional Latin Jazz quintet piece that features solos from the trumpet of Reinaldo Mellan Alvarez and the tenor sax of Branford Marsalis. The group didn`t have a tenor sax at the concert in Cartagena.
"Afro-Comanche" reflects the story of Comanche Indians who were deported to Cuba in the 19th.century; it combines Indian melody with afro Cuban danzon rhythms and which, at times, sounds a little like McCoy Tyner. It features Gaston Joya on bass and Dreiser Durruthy Bombale playing batas drums and singing what, to me, sounds like what could be a Comanche incantation.
"Pilar", a slow "Blues in Green" tune, is dedicated to Chucho` mother. After a brief piano statement there is a long melodic arco bass solo from Gaston Joya which moves into a conventional pizzicato jazz solo. Chucho plays a tinkling melodic solo and concludes with a little bit of Bach.
"Santa Cruz" has a flamenco melody over a fast rumba rhythm. It is all chucho with the three percussionists soloing together at the conclusion.
This is a very entertaining CD, full of melody, rhythm, and outstanding musicianship.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Viva Valdes! 22 July 2013
By Robert J. Robbins - Published on
Verified Purchase
This latest chapter in the Afro-Cuban musical saga of the 72-year-old titan from Havana truly lives up to the album's title, with European classical influences cheek-by-jowl with Yoruba chants and McCoy Tyner-inspired flashes of Valdes' supreme keyboard virtuosity. On three tracks, Valdes' Afro-Cuban Jazz Messengers (named for the legendary band fronted for over four decades by the late drummer Art Blakey), which includes three percussionists, are joined by tenor and soprano sax master (and Blakey alumnus) Branford Marsalis, who fits in perfectly. "Bebo" is a loving, heartfelt tribute to Valdes' recently-departed father, a renowned pianist in pre-Castro Cuba who spent most of his later years in Sweden, while "Afro-Comanche" and "Abdel" respectively incorporate Native North American (Indian) and Middle Eastern influences. "Border-Free" ("Sin Fronteras") is an absolutely "rojo-caliente" musical experience!

Robert J. Robbins, Broomall, PA
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Chucho fan! 10 July 2013
By Sadie Wren - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I loved "Chucho's Steps" but now I think this one's even better. Found some reviews online:

"On the new 'Border-Free,' his mastery as composer and player is on full display: an encyclopedic vocabulary of Afro-Cuban rhythms and an expansive palette that includes all manner of modern jazz as well as traditional classical repertoire" - Boston Globe

"Border-Free ups the ante...Hard bebop meets vintage Cuban dance music here...The signature piece is "Afro-Comanche" where ferocious Latin rhythms get fired up by declarative opening chords pounding out First Nations chant" - Toronto Star

"Valdes's every dancing intro, incisive fill and storming chordal eruption on piano is always irresistable, and his solo opener on the breathless Congadanza is a nine-minute exposition of exactly why he remains one of jazz piano's most majestic virtuosos." - The Guardian (UK)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great CD of course. 30 Nov. 2013
By Brad Rockwell - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great CD. Valdes is simply one of the greatest living jazz pianists. However, for some reason the CD does not come close to capturing how good Valdez was when I saw him live. Not sure I understand the Native American (Sioux?) imagery or purported inspiration either.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Destined to become a classic 15 July 2013
By Malvin - Published on
Verified Purchase
"Border-Free" by Chucho Valdes is the latest triumph from the 72-year old emissary of Afro-Cuban jazz. Chucho is supported by a school of young, energetic supporting players including Reinaldo Melian Alvarez on trumpet, Dreiser Durruthy Bombale on bata drums, Rodney Barreto Illarza on drums, Yaroldy Abreu Robles on percussion and Angel Gaston Joya Perellada on upright bass. The great Branford Marsalis plays trumpet on three tracks, as well. All of the songs are composed, arranged and conducted by Chucho except for the standard 'Tabu'. For its demonstrated ability to draw energy from the past to imagine the future of jazz, this timeless recording is destined to become a classic.

'Congadanza' displays Chucho's incredible musical instincts and virtuosity. Chucho seems to use every key on the piano to explore a free-wheeling range of ideas. Although the rhythm section is allowed space to dialogue energetically with Chucho, this song is mostly about the pleasure of listening to a true maestro's performance.

'Caridad Amaro' is simply one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear. Combining power, sensitivity and magnificent tone, Chucho displays a prowess on the keyboard that is without peer.

'Tabu' is a jazz/pop classic that benefits from Marsalis' trumpet and Chucho's piano improvisations and a tasty, extended bop-inspired dialogue with the rhythm section.

'Bebo' is Chucho's touching tribute to his father Bebo Valdes who passed away a few months after the song was recorded. Bebo, who is credited with founding the Valdes musical dynasty, thrived in pre-revolutionary Cuba as the famed bandleader at the Tropicana hotel where he rearranged American jazz tunes with a Latin twist. Regrettably, in the heady aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, the style of swing jazz championed by Bebo was denounced by some as decadent. Bebo fled Cuba to northern Europe where he remained estranged from Chucho for many years; until father and son memorably reunited for the making of the film Calle 54.

With the song 'Bebo', Chucho brilliantly reconciles the struggles across generations and politics as only he can. This bright and gently swinging tune leads off with Chucho's bold tumbao which brings our attention to the African soul that gave jazz its swing. Featuring Marsalis on trumpet (who of course embodies a comparable, multi-generational American jazz dynasty), the music testifies to the deep cultural connections that have bound Cuba and the U.S. for many years. Bebo could not have asked for a more profound meditation on his life and legacy than this.

'Afro-Comanche' is alluded to in the album's cover art where Chucho is seen sporting a Native American headdress. The song attests to a group of Comanche warriors who were captured in battle and forcibly relocated to Cuba. Chucho plays a Native American folk melody over an Afro-Cuban beat with passion and intensity to invoke the chaotic and dynamic melding of cultures brought together in an unexpected yet ultimately harmonious manner. Perellada delivers an exceptional bass solo while the percussionists somehow fuse Native American and Afro-Cuban drum patterns and chants into a singular sound. The result is a spellbinding and highly original piece of music that speaks to the human spirit and its capacity for creativity and renewal.

'Pilar' draws on the classical chamber music that Chucho studied from an early age and remain important to Cuban music today. Perellada sets a pensive, dramatic mood with his bowing on the strings of the cello. Perellada and Chucho dialogue in a series of heartfelt, virtuoso improvisations that profitably explores classical structure and jazz release.

'Santa Cruz' is a joyously danceable, up-tempo tune. Chucho delivers a characteristically propulsive piano performance over a rocking Afro-Cuban rhythm section.

'Abdel' is another crowd pleaser that features a series of fiery leads from Chucho, Perellada and Marsalis. The arrangement includes a triumphant riff played by the horn section that helps lift this song far above the ordinary.

Suffice to say, I highly recommend "Border-Free" to everyone who appreciates great music.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Great Record 12 Aug. 2013
By Andrea Levine-Sage - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a masterful album, with thrilling compositions. There is so much emotion in the music, but it is also strong and muscular. Chucho Valdes has created an all-encompassing world of music, his world of music, which you can happily visit as often as you like.
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