Nov./Dec. 2004

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XXI Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza ( Havana Jazz Festival )
Gala De Clausura — Homenaje a Mayra Caridad Valdés

Domingo 19 de deciembre 2004 Teatro Karl Marx La Habana

This closing concert was dedicated to the singer Mayra Caridad Valdés in celebration of her 25 year career. Placed under the direction of her brother Chucho, this program featured some of the best Cuban musicians, as well as many international guests.

Chucho Valdés

Mayra Caridad Valdés
The heavy curtain which faces us is slowly raised. Chucho all in white sits at the piano. A spotlight flashes in the brass of the horn section. Swathed in swirling smoke the rhythm section is poised for action. A sign from Chucho — and the music starts.

We are to witness a masterfully orchestrated spectacle — from the quiet a cappella singing of Sexto Sentido to the raging fire of Mayra Caridad's voice. The energy will ebb and flow as various guests come and go.

The young powerhouse vibraphonist Tamara Castañeda will delight us. Four Cuban flute virtuosos will share the stage. A trumpet duel will be won by Basilio Márquez with his circular breath. Mayra Caridad Valdés will sing and put us under her spell. Pushed into the spotlight, Nick "Brownman" Ali will put horn to mouth and blare his soul. A primal and unrelenting rhythm will drive Chucho to join in dance.

We are up, out of our seats — smiling and dancing. Mayra Caridad is presented with a bouquet of roses. Then the curtain is lowered. And it's over.

I will never forget that night.

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• • • • • •
Report and Photographs by
• •
Roger Humbert
for The Live Music Report

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