Manuel Valera’s Forma Nueva (Mavo) is one of the most promising piano recording debuts in recent years. Valera was born 23 years ago in Cuba, where he studied classical saxophone, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 14-which is also when he began playing piano. What is impressive about Forma Nueva is not Valera’s eclecticism, which is expected, nor even his command of the keyboard, which approaches Brad Mehldau levels of completeness. It is rather the elegance with which he shapes his high-energy expressiveness into intricate, flowing musical wholes.
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