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Jazz At Five: Chuchito Valdes, Kinfolk (free)

  • Corner of State and Mifflin Streets 100 West Mifflin Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Pianist Chuchito Valdes was born in Havana to a family that's played a huge role in Afro-Cuban jazz since the 1940s when his grandfather Bebo Valdes began playing professionally. (His father, Chucho Valdes, is also a renowned pianist.) As a bandleader, composer, and improviser, Valdes seems to relish in playing across a wide range. His 2012 release Live In Chicago stretches from the rippling grooves most often associated with Afro-Cuban jazz to more meditative and thorny workouts that evoke everything from Chopin to Herbie Hancock. Around the time of the album's recording he was also accused of overdoing it a bit, and indeed there are moments where he pounds away on the piano more than seems interesting or reasonable. But all in all, the richness of Valdes' repertoire and his flexibility as a player outweigh those gripes. —Scott Gordon