Chuchito Valdés is the grandson of the late Bebo and son of Chucho, Cuban jazz royalty. The short version of my rule for music is that African + Iberian = Proof of God’s Infinite Love, so I listen to a fair amount of this stuff.
Tonight we caught Chuchito at Yoshi’s. I was playing hooky from a talk by Theda Skocpol at our annual Wildavsky Forum, and if all my colleagues had done as I did, it would have been a Bad Thing, categorical imperative time, but they didn’t, and I got to hear one of those evenings of music I’ll remember all my life. Unfair, I know, but seriously, up there with The Doors live at the Fillmore East on my short list of times.
Valdes had a minimal band (percussion, timbales, bass and a trumpet player whose name I missed), so every note counted and you could hear them all. He played boleros and son to break your heart, mambos and rhumbas to wake the dead and restart the universe. In the middle he did a medley of A Train and Satin Doll for which Edward Kennedy Ellington and William Strayhorn came down from heaven and spoke to us in Spanish. If the horn guy gets the “last trumpet” gig for the apocalypse I want to be in the front row and will die happy, especially because at that time I will also see the wretched Florida Cuban reactionaries and their Republican toadies going to hell for keeping us from this glorious music for decades.
About regression towards the mean? The statistics lesson for tonight is that the principle, normally sound, apparently has exceptions.
[Free extra, not worth a post by itself: the joropo (Venezuelan/Colombian cowboy music) group Cimarrón has an 2011 self-titled album that I just came upon. If you don’t know them, check it out.]