Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes has remarkable facility as a soloist, accompanist and writer, and what’s even more amazing is that he routinely delivers these fantastic statements while playing some of the world’s most rhythmically intricate music. New Conceptions takes the listener on another exciting excursion through a host of genres, among them traditional Cuban forms, straightahead jazz, even classically influenced material. Valdes romps through Ernesto Lecuona’s “La Comparsa” like it was a children’s tune, unencumbered by the piece’s twisting, shifting tempos and beats. The same holds true for Miles Davis’ “Solar” and the DePaul/Raye number “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” One’s a hardbop staple, the other a pre-rock anthem, but each gets deconstructed and reworked with Valdes steadily blending tune fragments, block chords, octave leaps, pedal gimmicks and percussive snippets into heady, coherent solos.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.