Chucho Valdés in concert in Toulouse: “For 40 years, I have been in love with France”
Saturday, November 26, the Halle aux grains will resonate with a thousand Afro-Cuban sounds thanks to the graceful performance of Afro-Cuban jazz legend Chucho Valdés and his orchestra.
In Toulouse, the pianist Chucho Valdés presents jazz classics and his oratorio “La Creación”, a tribute to his culture of origin, with fervor and guaranteed dance steps…
How will the evening start and how do you feel at each concert?
I’m going to play a song with my quartet called “Ponle la clave” and a medley of jazz standards and this part ends with the great “But not for me”. Freedom guides my work as a composer and I create wherever I want, always looking to the future…
Then will come “La Creación”, the oratorio that you composed, to whom does it pay homage?
It is a tribute to the Yoruba culture which is inscribed in my roots. It tells the story of Olodumare, the Orisha or the most important deity of the Yoruba pantheon and explains how he creates the real music of the world. I designed the work by describing step by step how the Orishas were created and the responsibility of each of them on Earth.
Is the Yoruba diaspora from West Africa still alive in Cuba and elsewhere in the world?
Yes, still there and alive, impossible to forget! It honors religious representatives like Santeros and Babalaos and the entire Yoruba religion. This culture is the symbol of my roots and Cuban culture is very influenced by African rhythms so it’s all part of my life. I have deep respect for this culture and its Orishas, especially Obatala who created human beings on instruction from God.
Was it a long-term job?
Yes, it was a long road to analyze the work and design it. When things were framed, the part of each of the musicians lit up. The particularity of this oratorio lies in a mixture of rhythms which then led to the creation of new sounds. And beyond this oratorio, the music has something to do with everything that exists around us, I’m sure!
Who will surround you during this evening?
Hilario Durán and John Beasley, the arrangers of the piece who also conduct it, have done an incredible job each in their own specialty. Erick Barberia is the batá player (double-headed hourglass drum, Ed), Yenisel Valdés is the soloist, Felipe Sarria Linares on vocals and minor percussion, Dafnis Prieto on drums, Roberto Jr. Vizcaino on percussion, Jose A. Gola on bass, Brian Lynch and Etienne Charles on trumpet, Marcus Strickland on bass clarinet and alto sax and Carlos Averhoff Jr. on tenor sax and flute. They are really all incredible and are the strength of this great project!
With a career as impressive as yours, are you still looking for a new dream?
I still have a lot of dreams and projects, “La Création” is part of this dynamic and I’m still working on the future with, soon, new surprises!
Why do you have such a passionate relationship with our country?
Since my training at school I have been a big fan of Debussy, Ravel, Michel Legrand and it was my dream to come to France one day. I completed the trip in 1981 and fell in love with the country. And then the French public is very special, they know what they’re listening to, it’s always marked to see their reactions and it’s very pleasant for us on stage. And then coming to Marciac and Toulouse is always a great pleasure for me!