Edited by AZI Staff
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will present Chucho Valdes: Irakere 40 on Friday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m. The Chucho Valdes: Irakere 40 tour is a celebration of the Cuban band Irakere, which revolutionized Latin dance music and jazz more than 40 years ago with its bold fusion of Afro-Cuban ritual and popular music, jazz and rock. It features the five-time Grammy and three-time Latin Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Jesus “Chucho” Valdes, who was Irakere’s founder, main composer and arranger. Joining Chucho onstage is an expanded 10-piece version of his current band, The Afro-Cuban Messengers, representing a new generation of the best Cuban musicians.
Leading The Afro-Cuban Messengers in this extraordinary tribute to the music of Irakere, Chucho offers a vivid retrospective of his work during the past four decades. It is also a wide-angle view of the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz, with updated classics from Irakere´s repertoire as well as some of Chucho’s newer compositions.
This special performance, which includes a red-carpet welcome for the audience, also commemorates the 40th anniversary of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which opened to the public on Oct. 23, 1975.“When we had the opportunity to present this concert celebrating four decades of groundbreaking music from Chucho Valdes and Irakere, we knew it would also be the perfect way to recognize the Center’s 40-year history showcasing the world’s most innovative performing artists,” remarked Ally Haynes-Hamblen, interim director of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. “We invite everyone to join us for this incredible concert and cultural milestone for Scottsdale.”
First performing together in Cuba in 1973, Chucho and Irakere burst onto the global stage in 1978 at a Newport Jazz Festival engagement at Carnegie Hall. A few months later, an album simply titled Irakere and including tracks drawn from the Carnegie Hall debut and a later show at the Montreux Jazz Festival, won the Grammy for “Best Latin Recording.” One of Irakere’s remarkable characteristics was that the group followed and maintained two parallel musical tracks: jazz experimentation and dance music hits. Their shows, especially in Cuba, often featured a first part focused on jazz and a second half dedicated to dancers. Irakere remained active until 2005. Several of the group’s charter members, most notably saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, have gone on to become leading music figures in their own right. In fact, emulating Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Irakere served as a rolling graduate school of Afro-Cuban jazz. In conjunction with the U.S. tour, Chucho Valdes: Irakere 40 will be releasing Live at Marciac (Jazz Village/harmonia mundi) on Nov. 13.
Tickets are available at ScottsdalePerformingArts.org or 480-499-8587.