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Cuban Piano Legend Bebo Valdes, 89, to Release Live Album

Bebo Valdes, Cuban pianist and living record of jazz history, will release a new recording, Live at the Village Vanguard , on Sept. 2.

The 14-track album, recorded at a November 2005 performance, contains an array of original compositions, boleros and Cuban classics by Ernesto Lecuona. Also included is Valdes’ take on Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby,” which was performed by Evans at the Vanguard in 1961.

Valdes, who will turn 90 on Oct. 19, is well-known for his classic blend of Cuban music and jazz. Playing along with Valdes during the Vanguard performance was double bassist Javier Colina. Valdes referred to Colina as “one of the best bass players I have played with in my entire life, and certainly the most accomplished.”

Valdes got his start as a pianist in Havana, Cuba and went on to become the musical director of the illustrious Tropicana Club. From the late ’40s through the early ’50s, Valdes worked with acts like Nat “King” Cole and Sarah Vaughan. During those years, Valdes became well-known as one of Cuba’s finest jazz pianists, as well as a composer, arranger and band director.

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