Cuba’s Jazz Plaza International Festival to Pay Tribute to Bebo Valdés


The Jazz Plaza International Festival will dedicate a tribute to pianists Bebo and Chucho Valdés, “father and son united by a deep love of music.” His son, Chucho Valdés and his group, The Afro-Cuban Messengers, will open the inaugural gala event at the National Theatre’s Avellaneda Hall on December 19, 2013, in honor of his recently deceased father.

Among the Cuban musicians set to play at the festival are Bobby Carcasses, Enrique Pla, Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla, Alexis Bosch, Ruy, Ernan and Harold Lopez-Nussa, Roberto Fonseca, Rolando Luna, Emilio Morales, Orlando Cubajazz, and Jorge Reyes.

This is the first public tribute to Bebo Valdés organized by the Cuban government. As the author of the article points out, “Praise only appears after the pianist’s death in exile.” Official media said that Chucho “inherited” his passion for jazz from his father, Dionisio Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro, “considered one of the central figures of this island music scene in the twentieth century.” In 2009, when father and son won the Grammy for the album Juntos para siempre [Forever Together], the media apparently edited the information and failed to mention Bebo’s name.

At that time, Chucho said to Spanish newspaper El País, “I’m outraged [. . .] I feel very frustrated. I don’t understand how you can skip a name that has given so much glory to Cuba. And it’s my dad … I will not tolerate this.” Earlier this year, Chucho Valdés considered that Cuba owed ​​a tribute to his father; he said in an interview with AFP, “Cuba owes a special tribute to my dad, a major figure in the world music,” he said in an interview.

According to the article, Bebo Valdés is not alone; others who were “punished” with silence were writers from the sixties and seventies, such as José Lezama Lima and Virgilio Piñera. In recent times, Cuba has tried to “rescue” them and reinstate their place in history “but always after their death.”

For original article (in Spanish), see

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