Bebo Valdés: 5 films to remember him by

Africa is a Country (Old Site)

It is hard to underestimate the importance of pianist Bebo Valdés’ contributions to Cuban music. “Bebo”, who passed way at the age of 94 in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday, is considered to have been instrumental in “wedding traditional Afro-Cuban dance rhythms with the improvisational freedom of American jazz” (JazzTimes). His earliest performances were in rumba style but his exposure to jazz in the 1930s “altered the course of his music as he adopted the African-rooted rhythms and the swing of the American big bands to his own playing and arranging.” In 1947 Bebo took a job as pianist-arranger in Haiti, an experience that he says “increased his knowledge of African-based rhythms.” He returned to Cuba in 1948, where he gained fame as the musical director of the Tropicana club in Havana. In October 1952, he did a series of recordings for American producer Norman Granz, a descarga that is considered to be…

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