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Paquito D’Rivera Remembers Bebo Valdés

10.9.18 – 3.22.13

Bebo and Chucho Valdes
Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D'Rivera, Bebo Valdes, Stockholm, 1981

In November of 1994, I produced Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés’ Bebo Rides Again for the Messidor Records label in Germany. Bebo had been living in exile in Sweden since the early ’60s, and this was his first recording project in over three decades. Surrounded by that certain aura of secrecy inherent in anything related to the island of Cuba, my wife Brenda Feliciano did the complicated logistical work to bring in timbalero Amadito Valdés (of Buena Vista fame), Irakere guitarist Carlos Emilio Morales and Bebo Valdés’ son Chucho from Havana. The historic recording session took place at the famous Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, and it was the first time in all those years that Cuban instrumentalists from both sides of the Florida straits got together to put some music on tape.

From Holland we had Venezuelan percussionist Gerardo Rosales and from New York City came the dynamic bongosero Gabriel “Chinchilita” Machado, trombonist Juan Pablo Torres, Argentinean trumpeter Diego Urcola, tumbador Carlos “Patato” Valdés-an old friend of the star of the session-and Newyorican bassist Joe Santiago, who doubled as Valdés’ personal translator. Patato was known to have a very peculiar and percussive way of articulating words, and Santiago was one of the few individuals in the music business capable of understanding what the legendary conguero wanted to express verbally.

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