Four Generations
Cuban Jazz Musicians


Brought to you by Authentic Cuba Travel

Cuban Jazz has existed for generations, and many consider the island to be the birthplace of the genre. While jazz itself is still a very young form of music, it certainly has many generations and incarnations. Here, we will take a look at some of the biggest artists and influences within the world of Cuban Jazz.


Grupo Canela

 

A largely female group, Grupo Canela was founded in 1989 by Zoe Aldama. Famed both in Cuba and internationally, the group has played many of the world’s top jazz and salsa festivals, having shared the stage with Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdes, and many others. Their sound spans many genres and makes use of many unique instruments, giving them a sound all their own and helping them gain worldwide acclaim.

 

Hermanos Arango

 

Formed by brothers Feliciano and Eugenio Arango, Hermanos Arango is an Afro-Cuban jazz band originating in Havana. Founded in 2003, the band works to create a unique sound and concept, incorporating African religious elements with their unique harmonies, percussion, and sound. Both brothers have many years experience in jazz, and during their time as Hermanos Arango, have performed in numerous festivals and television shows.

 

Emilio Morales and New Friends

 

This group, created in 2008, plays a mix of traditional Cuban music and international music. While Morales is the center of the group, they have worked with a number of impressive guest vocalists, working to incorporate genres such as American jazz into more traditional Cuban music.

 

Klimax

 

Considered to be one of Cuba’s original timba bands, Klimax is known as much for jazz and Caribbean music as for traditional Cuban music. Klimax was formed in April of 1995 and made their debut at The Fifth Avenue Cecilia, marking the start of what has certainly been a popular and successful career.

 

Abreu Janio

 

Born in 1983 and studying at the Manuel Samuell Conservatory beginning at the age of 10, the fame of multi-instrumentalist Abreu Janio surprises none of those who have ever heard him play. He has earned recognition for his talents with many different instruments and has played a wide range of jazz and music festivals.

 

Alexander Abreu Manresa

 

Born in 1986 and a graduate of the National Art School, Alexander Abreu Manresa specializes in playing the trumpet. He has participated in many major festivals and events and has had the opportunity to share the stage with Buena Vista Social Club, Jose Luis Cortes, and more. He has also played on numerous Latin and American Grammy-nominated albums.

 

Leonardo Jose Acosta Sanchez

 

Acosta served the Cuban jazz community as a musician, writer, researcher, and journalist. Born in 1933, Acosta played with many of the biggest artists and orchestras in Cuban jazz from the 1950’s to the late 1980’s, working with the likes of Chucho Valdes, Sarah Vaughan, and more. His work in the history of music has been vital, and his contribution to jazz has gone well beyond the music he played.

 

Maye Azcuy

 

Born in Pinar Del Rio, pianist, songwriter, and singer Maye Azcuy has studied music since the age of 14. She began her career as a singer in Havana, before moving to Buenos Aires, where she formed a jazz quintet that still plays many of the major jazz festivals. With two albums currently to her name, her unique combination of jazz and soul has earned her a solid place within the Cuban and international jazz communities.

 

Guillermo Barreto

 

This famed percussionist is largely considered to be one of the best of all time. Born in 1929, Barreto and Chucho Valdes helped to form the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music. Even as a youth he played such famed genres as The Tropicana, and he grew up sharing the stage with musicians like Nat King Cole. Even after he stopped making music Barreto worked to produce music for some of Cuba’s younger jazz musicians.

 

Mario Bauza

 

Born in 1911, Mario Bauza was famed not only as a composer, but as a bandleader who played the trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet. His first brush with jazz came in 1926 Harlem, where he saw the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. From here a love of the sound was born, and it was one that would carry him far. Playing in the band of Cab Calloway alongside Dizzy Gillespie, Bauza was a member of the Afro-Cubans and helped to popularize a form of jazz that blended Afro-Cuban music with traditional jazz in a way that created a new and completely unique genre of music.

 

Francis “Frank” Bejerano

 

Percussionist Francisco “Frank” Bejerano began studying percussion at the William Thomas Music School in Guanabacoa where he was born. He went on to study at National Art School before becoming a performer. He was the founding drummer of the Pablo Milanes Group and performed and recorded popular Cuban music alongside some of the nation’s biggest artists until his death in 2012.

 

Ignacio Berroa

 

Born in 1953, percussionist Ignacia Berroa is largely considered one of the greatest drummers of the modern era. As well renowned in the United States as he is in Cuba, Berroa was nominated for a 2007 Grammy award and has worked with some of the biggest, best, and most well known jazz artists around the world.

 

Joaquin Betancourt

 

Violinist, arranger, and producer Joaquin Betancourt has been one of the biggest names in Cuban music for more than three decades. He has produced hundreds of works, spanning many genres of Cuban music, and has had a role in producing many of the biggest albums ever recorded in Cuba.

 

Danae Blanco

 

This remarkable singer has recorded music in four different languages. She has worked with many famed musicians, including Chucho Valdes, Mynton Marsalis, Celia Cruz, and more. She has also been a part of Jazz Plaza, as well as many other national and international jazz festivals.

 

Alexis Bosch Mendez

 

Composer, arranger, pianist, and percussionist Alexis Bosch Mendez was born in 1966 in Havana. He has been part of many Cuban jazz and popular music groups and has composed more than 80 original works. He has played in more than 20 countries and currently serves as the director of the Cuban Jazz Project.

 

Roberto Carcasses

 

Composer and pianist Roberto Carcasses was born in 1972. He has played countless jazz festivals and has written music for a variety of film and theater projects. He has won numerous awards for his musical works and has collaborated with many of the best jazz musicians both in Cuba and around the globe.

 

Arturo Roberto Carcasses Cuza

 

Bobby Cuza is an artist, actor, composer, and multi-instrumentalist who was both in Jamaica, where his father served as the Cuban consulate, in 1938. Cuza felt connected to music from an early age, and has performed at jazz festivals on five different continents. He has also made a name for himself in a number of Canadian films, as well as through paintings that have been displayed around the world. He is a regular performer and a main promoter of Cuba’s famed Jazz Plaza festivals.

 

Ignacio R. Cervantes

 

More commonly known as The Spark, Ignacio Cervantes is the director of famed Cuban Orchestra Spark and Accomplices. The orchestra is one of the most popular in Cuba, and has gained recognition in a number of countries around the world. The group has performed at numerous jazz festivals and has currently recorded three CDs.

 

Jose Luis Cortes

 

Composer, producer, flutist, and arranger Jose Luis Cortes, has played a large role in Cuban music. Considered the creator of Cuban music’s “new school”, he is considered to be one of the masters of the timba movement. Considered a staple of Cuban Music, Cortes has written music for numerous films both inside and outside of Cuba and has performed in more than 55 different countries.

 

Jose Miguel Crego Castro

 

Also known as El Greco, Jose Miguel Crego Castro was born in 1958. His first tour was with Afrocuba, and he was part of the first Cuban band to perform in Europe’s jazz clubs. He has recorded numerous albums and was even selected to perform the music used to welcome Pope John Paul II to Cuba. He has worked with some of the biggest names in Jazz and has performed in virtually all of the world’s largest and most prestigious jazz festivals.

 

Miguel Angel de Armas Capote

 

Born in 1995, this pianist began playing before the age of ten. Spending his high school years at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, in 2010 he won the coveted Amadeo Roldin piano competition. He also earned the chance to perform as a soloist with the conservatory’s National Youth orchestra. He also won the Competition of Young Jazz Musicians in 2011 for his song Copan, as well as the prestigious Louis Armstrong scholarship and the chance to spend a summer studying jazz at the United States’ Loyola University.

 

Miguel Aurelio Diaz Zayas

 

Miguel Zayas, better known as Anga, was known in the 1990’s as Cuba’s best young percussionist. He merged jazz, traditional Cuban music, flamenco, hip-hop, and other genres and was renowned for his abilities with the congas. Influenced by many of music’s most talented artists, Anga was known as The New Chano Pozo. He was nominated for three Grammy awards and was given the opportunity to share the national and international stage with some of music’s biggest names before his early death in 2006.

 

Felipe Dulzaides Badia

 

Felipe Dulzaides Badia was a pianist, composer, and arranger. He was one of the founders of group Bellamar, and has performed with such renowned artists as Frank Emilio and Bebo Valdes. He is considered to be one of Cuba’s first jazz artists, and is given a great deal of credit in helping to cultivate jazz culture throughout the nation.

 

Maykel Elizalde

 

An incredibly talented player of the Cuban Tres, Maykel Ruano once believed that the instrument was meant to be played by seniors. This of course changed for him later in life, leading to renown as one of the instrument’s premiere players. In 1998, he helped form Trovarroco and later Maykel’s Quartet, which combined jazz and many other forms of Cuban music. His first album in 2012 earned him three award nominations, two of which he went on to win.

 

Lilia Pino Esposito (Bellita)

 

Bellita Esposito is a pianist and singer who began studying music at a young age. She studied at the Amdeo Roldan Conservatory as well as the Instituto Superior de Arte. She taught music theory, harmony, and polyphony at different institutions for over ten years. Bellita released her first album in 1997 and performed with the group Jazztumbata that toured Cuba, the US, and abroad. She has participated in numerous jazz festivals around the world.

 

Alejandro Falcon

 

Alejandro Falcon is one of the most talented young pianists in Cuba and has performed in over 20 international jazz festivals. He has played with some of the most renowned jazz masters in Cuba and has won numerous awards for his work. He has won awards at the Harold Gramatges Composition Competition, the international Musicalia competition, as well as different awards at the JoJazz contest in 2002 and 2005. He released his first album “Chiaroscuro” in 2010.

 

David Faya

 

David Faya studied symphonic bass with Ivan Valiente, professor of chamber music and bass at the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. He attended the Banff Centre for the development of the performing arts and has played for over ten years with many important jazz groups and musicians. Internationally, he has performed at jazz festivals around the world.

 

Francisco Emilio Flyn Rodriguez

 

Francisco Emilio Flyn Rodriguez was one of the greatest experts in the native rhythms of Cuba. During the forties he was linked to the Feeling Movement and his work is prized by musicians and scholars of Latin Jazz alike. Born April 13, 1921, he passed on August 23, 2001, having played in clubs and on the radio and television in many different countries. Frank Emilio lost his vision at the age of 13 and studied instruments in Braille at Cuba’s National Association for the Blind. He played many styles of music over his long career, including the f ì lin style, which fused jazz harmony, Cuban rhythm and romantic ballads, as well as modern Latin jazz.

 

Roberto Fonseca

 

Roberto Fonseca is known as one of the coolest young jazz musicians to come out of Cuba. He obtained a Masters in composition from the Instituto Superior de Arte of Cuba and has mixed a wide variety of styles in with Afro-Cuban music, including jazz, soul, funk, blues, and hip hop. He was born in 1975 to the drummer Roberto Fonseca Durades and the singer Mercedes Cortes Alfaro. At the young age of 15 he played his first professional gig at the Jazz Plaza festival in Havana. He has toured internationally and recorded his latest album in 2009.

 

Yissy Garcia Calzadilla

 

Yissy Garcia Calzadilla is a talented young percussionist born in 1987. She won a special mention at the JoJazz competition in 2006. She has performed at jazz festivals around the world as well as different radio and television programs. Yissy is a notable up and coming jazz percussionist who has had great success in her career thus far.

 

Gonzalo Fonseca Gonzalez (Gonzalo Rubalcaba)

 

Gonzalo is a prolific virtuoso, composer, and important jazz pianist who was nominated in 2002 for a Latin Grammy award for his album “Supernova”. Having trained at the Instituto Superior de Arte, he fuses Cuban music with American influences and has been known for his jazz talent since the 1990s. He has worked with many different jazz groups and traveled the world to perform at different jazz festivals.

 

Horacio Hernandez (El Negro)

 

Horacio Hernandez, known as El Negro, is a talented drummer and percussionist who was born in 1963 in Havana. He is a part of the younger generation of jazz musicians who made a name for himself both in Cuba and in the United states. He has performed with numerous Latin jazz, jazz, pop, and rock groups throughout the years and won a Grammy in 2001 for his Latin jazz album “Live at the Blue Note”. He has been on the cutting edge of Latin music and has taught percussion at the University of Rome in Italy and become a member of the Berkley College of Music in Boston as well as the Percussion Technical Institute of Los Angeles.

 

Braulio Hernandez Rodriguez (Babin)

 

Braulio Hernandez is a saxophonist, bandleader, and composer born in the Matanzas province of Cuba in 1937. Over the years he has played with many different orchestras and traveled the world while touring with different jazz bands. Braulio has recorded several albums over his long musical career.

 

Michel Alvarez Herrera

 

Michel Alvarez Herrera is a young saxophonist born in Havana in 1984. He has integrated several popular dance music groups and has accompanied many young Cuban musicians on tours around the world. He won a prize at the JoJazz competition in 2005 and 2006 and has recorded many albums with various groups over the years. His first album was recorded in 2009 and in 2011 he recorded his second album in New York.

 

Gaston Joya

 

Gaston Joya is a bassist who graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte. He is a promising young Cuban musician who has won several awards, including an award at JoJazz. Gaston has performed with a number of groups and orchestras over the years and has served on musical productions as a performer, composer, and arranger. He has traveled the world participating in various jazz festivals.

 

Enrique Lazaga Varona

 

Enrique Lazaga Varona is a professor of Cuban percussion and popular orchestras at the Roldan Conservatory of Music. He has been nominated three times for Grammy awards. He has played both nationally and internationally and has participated in the recordings of many different albums.

 

Yusimil Lopez Bridon (Yusa)

 

Yusa Lopez is a singer and instrumentalist, playing the guitar, bass, keyboard, and percussion instruments. He is internationally recognized for his musical style, which mixes funk, jazz, rap, and soul with African and Caribbean roots. He is often compared to American singer Tracy Chapman. Born in 1973, he has studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte. Yusa has released several albums and played around the world with many different groups and artists.

 

Victor Lopez Jorrin (Pucho)

 

Pucho Lopez is a pianist, composer, arranger, and record producer whose style was said to include the virtuosity of jazz, the strength of rick, and the lyricism of the classics. Born in 1956, he passed away on September 15, 2012. He taught himself to play the piano at the age of three and at the age of 15 began his professional musical career fusing rock and Cuban music. He traveled the world performing and opened a recording studio in 1990.

 

Cesar Alejandro Lopez Martinez

 

Cesar Alejandro Lopez is a saxophonist born in Havana in 1968. He has been noted for technical expertise and played with Irakere. He graduated from the National School of Arts and is currently the director of the Havana Ensemble, which plays in the Latin jazz, fusion, and Cuban popular musical style. He has traveled the world and taught at the University Center of Canada, Atlantic University in Columbia, the Instituto Superior de Arte, and conservatories in Spain and London.

 

Orlando Lopez Vergara (Cachaito)

 

Orlando Lopez Vergara was a bassist who was born in 1933 and died in 2009. He was a part of the National Symphony Orchestra and founded the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. He began his musical career in 1946 and was a part of the jazz band that accompanied the American singer Nat King Cole at the Tropicana Cabaret in the 1950s. He won a Grammy award in 2000 and had traveled to perform at the Lincoln center in New York in 1998.

 

Aldo Lopez-Gavilan Junco

 

Aldo Lopez is a young pianist and composer who has won numerous awards in over a dozen competitions throughout the world. Born in 1973 in Havana, and made is orchestral debut at age 12 with the Matanzas Symphony and at age 17 with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. He has traveled the world performing at international jazz festivals and performing concerts.

 

Harold Lopez-Nussa

 

Harold Lopez-Nussa is a young pianist who was born in Havana in 1983 and is one of the most popular jazz musicians on the island. He studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte and won the grand prize at the Amadeo Roldan National Piano Competition, first prize at the Iberoamerican, and was a finalist in the Citta di Senigallia. He has released many albums over the years and is passionate about jazz and classical music.

 

Ernan Lopez-Nussa Lekszycki

Ernan Lopez-Nussa Lekszycki is a Cuban pianist born in 1958 who studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte. Over the years he has played with a number of different groups and musicians throughout Cuba, beginning his professional musical career as a member of Afrocuba in 1977. He has won many prizes and awards for his work and released an album in 2009.

 

Ruy Lopez-Nussa Lekszycki

 

Ruy Lopez-Nussa is one of the most established and relevant Cuban percussionists. He was born in 1957 and studied percussion at the Instituto Superior de Arte. He began his musical career in 1980, performing with a rock group. Over the years he performed with many different groups, and traveled the world performing at different international jazz festivals.

 

Rolando Luna (Rolandito)

 

Rolando Luna is a young instrumentalist, pianist, composer, and arranger. Born in 1978, he specialized in classical piano at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. In 1999 he won first prize at JoJazz and the first prize in a Swiss piano competition in 2007. He released his first album in 2001 and has been quite successful as a musician over the years.

 

Luna Manzanares

 

Luna Manzanares is an exceptional Cuban singer whose work mixes jazz, trova, Brazilian, and American music. She won first mention at the JoJazz competition and over the years has collaborated with many different artists. Luna began her career singing jazz before beginning her solo career.

 

Yasek Manzano Silva

 

Yasek Manzano Silva is a young trumpet virtuoso who has been recognized throughout Cuba and elsewhere. At the young age of 13 he won first prize at the Amadeo Roldan National Competition and began playing professionally at the age of 15. In the late 90s he won a scholarship to study at the Julliard School of Music in New York. In 2003 he returned to Cuba and recorded his first album. Over the years he has traveled around the world playing at international jazz festivals.

 

Pablo Dane Menendez

 

Pablo Dane Menendez is a composer and guitarist who has been a professor of electric guitar at the National Art School. He was born in 1952 in Oakland, CA and began performing professionally in 1970. He has performed as an accompanist and vocalist all over the world and performed a duet with Carlos Santana in 1993.

 

Lazaro Manuel Morua Ruiz

 

Lazaro Manuel Morua Ruiz is a talented percussionist and singer and a member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and the Club Cubano de Jazz Plaza. Born in 1949 he has a long and successful career participating in many different jazz festivals. He has had a long career performing with many different musicians and groups.

 

Arturo O’Farrill (Chico)

 

Chico O’Farrill is a composer and trumpeter who was born in 1921 and passed away in 2001. He founded the beboppers and worked with a number of famous and infamous musical talents like Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Beeny Goodman, La Lupe, Count Basie, and Gato Barbieri. He had a long and storied career during which he founded the racketbags of Swing in 1945 and performed with numerous groups and artists. In 1995 he was nominated for a Grammy for his album Pure Emotion.

 

Michael Garcia Olivera

 

Michael Garcia Olivera is a young percussionist who graduated from the Vocational School of Art in Santa Clara in 2000 and the National Art School in 2005. In 2005 he joined an afro-Cuban rock group led by Carlos Alfonso. He has won many awards over the years and has performed alongside many famous musicians. He has traveled the world performing at different international jazz festivals.

 

Armando Peraza

 

Armando Peraza is one of the greatest and most respected figures in the percussion world. He was born in 1918 and played with Santana from 1972 to 1990. He was orphaned at the age of 7 and grew up on the streets of Havana. He began his musical career in the 40s and played worldwide through the 70s until joining up with Santana. He played on over 100 albums and composed over 40 songs, playing with many of the musical icons of the day including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Josephine Baker, Art Tatum, Dave Brubeck, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Zappa, Rick James, Aretha Franklin, and many others.

 

Enrique Pla Garcia

 

Enrique Pla Garcia is one of the most important drummers in Cuba, and helped to shape the role of drummers in Afro-Cuban, Afro-Latin, and Cuban Jazz musical styles. He has performed with many different artists and groups. He has contributed to several Grammy winning albums over the years. He has performed in jazz festivals all over the world. He has also taught throughout the Americas and Europe.

 

Yasdani Portillo

 

Yasdani Portillo is a composer and pianist who has directed a group of young jazz musicians called Yasdani Portillo & Runway. He graduated from the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory as well as the Instituto Superior de Arte. He has won the Amadeo Roldan Piano Competition several times and is a member of the Union of writers and Artists of Cuba.

 

Luciano Pozo Gonzalez (Chano)

 

Born in Havana in 1915, Chano Pozo, also known as El Tambor de Cuba, was a revolutionary jazz drummer. Her was a dancer as well as a drummer in many parades and began his career in radio, where he founded The Blue Set. In the early forties he worked on the show Cabaret Tropicana Panther Congo and was a member of the Brothers Palau. In 1946 he moved to the US where he recorded with Miguelito Valdes and Frank Grillo and from 46 until his death in December of 1948 he toured the US and Europe with Dizzy Gillespie who called him the greatest drummer he’s ever heard in his life and a drummer far ahead of his time.

 

Dafnis Prieto

 

Dafnis Prieto is a very talented drummer and musician. He is one of the most important and influential young contemporary jazz musicians. He studied at the National Music Institute of Havana and has composed music for films, ballets, chamber music, and his three groups. He has toured through Europe with pianists Carlos Maza and Ramon Valle as well as with Chucho Valdes and a number of other musicians. He has been a member of the New York University Music faculty since 2005, conducting a number of Masters level courses.

 

Jose Luis Quintana (Changuito)

 

Changuito Quintana is a well known traditional Cuban percussionist. Born in 1948, he has been a part of many famous groups and toured all over the world. In 1970 he played with Los Van Van, developing the Songo pace and marking a turning point in Cuban music. He has helped to write a number of Latin music pieces and has been considered one of the most important drummers of all time.

 

Jorge Reyes Hernandez

 

Jorge Reyes is an instrumentalist and a master of the double bass. He is known as an intense performer who has played with several important groups and musicians, including Chucho Valdes. In 2011 he launched a new group with Alejandro Falcon, Yamil, Roberto Garcia, and Keyser Jiminez.

 

William Roblejo

 

William Roblejo is a young violinist who is a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte and the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. He has played with many different groups and at jazz festivals in Havana.

 

Armando Romeu

 

Armando Romeu was a flutist, saxophonist, orchestrator, conductor, and a teacher to many of the greats of Cuban jazz. From 1919 until 1933 he performed with several different bands, touring the world and giving performances in Paris, Spain, and Portugal. In 1932 he founded his own group and began a period where he traveled the world on tour with his different groups. In 1967 he started a group with Chucho Valdes, Arturo Sandoval, and other famous musicians. With Frank Emilio he developed a method for teaching those who could see how to write for blind musicians as well as a new system of Braille notation for teaching the harmonic structures.

 

Emiliano Salvador

 

Emiliano Salvador was a pianist who lived from 1951 until 1922 and was known as a musician who was admired by musicians. He studied percussion and piano at the National School of Art and played with many groups, including his first, the Group of Sound Experimentation ICAIC. His style came of afro-Caribbean roots and was influenced by Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Frank Emilio, and Justiz Peruchin. He released many albums and in 2001 he was awarded a prize in Cubadisco.

 

Orlando Sanchez (Cubajazz)

 

Orlando Sanchez was a great instrumentalist who played the piano, saxophone, and clarinet. He was a renowned composer who registered over 100 works over his 30 years professionally composing and arranging. He played with great Cuban musicians like Chucho Valdes and many other important Cuban artists. He founded the Jazz Plaza Festival and Competition and served as jury president in several editions of JoJazz.

 

Omar Sosa

 

Omar Sosa is one of the most versatile jazz musicians of the day. He is a composer, producer, pianist, percussionist, arranger, and the leader of many different groups. His style incorporates electronic elements with contemporary Afro-Caribbean roots that creates a unique and urban sound with the heart of Latin jazz. He has won numerous awards over the years, including 4 different Grammy nominations and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Institute in 2003. He has released 17 different albums over the years.

 

Federico Aristides Alexiz Soto (Tata Guines)

 

Tata Guines was a great Cuban percussionist who was known around the world. He was considered the king of drums and an unparalleled interpreter of the rumba and conga. He lived from 1930 until 2008 and played with a number of different groups and musicians over his lifetime. He traveled the world touring and performing and was admired around the world for his modernization of the congas and for his unmatched skill at percussion.

 

Eladio Severino Terry Gonzalez (Pancho)

 

Pancho Terry was a legendary Cuban musician who played the violin as well as Cuba’s leading player of the chequere, a percussion instrument from West Africa. He has traveled the world playing this unique instrument and has performed with many of the great Cuban musicians and jazz groups of the time.

 

Dionisio Jesus Valdes (Chucho)

 

Chucho Valdes is considered one the best pianists in the world and is a master of all genres, including jazz, classical, and popular dance. He was born in 19411 and started studying music at just six years of age, learning from his very musical family, including his father, Bebo Valdes, who was one of the most important composers and pianists in Cuba. Over the years he has come out with many albums and won six Grammy awards over the years. He is a well known master and has taught at several universities, including the Royal Academy of Music in London, Berkeley in California, and the Instituto Superior de Arte in Cuba.

 

Mayra Caridad Valdes

 

Mayra Valdes is an outstanding singer with a unique voice. She is the daughter of Bebo Valdes and the sister of Chucho Valdes. She has won several awards over the years and has toured with Harry Belafonte and Irakere. She has been the voice of the Cabaret Tropicana and has put out several albums. She currently is working with her brother, Chucho Valdes.

 

Oscar Valdes

 

Oscar Valdes is a percussionist and vocalist who has won great recognition through his work with Chucho Valdes and Irakere. He was born in 1937 and has worked with many different groups and musicians over the years. He has traveled the world performing with Irakere and has taught classes at several universities around the world.

 

Jorge Luis Valdes (Chicoy)

 

Chicoy Valdes is a guitarist who was born in Havana in 1955. He formed a rock band in Havana in the 1970s and began playing with several local rock and blues groups. He studied at the National School of Art, after which he turned his attention to making jazz music. In 1985 he joined up with Arturo Sandoval and toured the world for six years, playing with people like Dizzie Gillespie, Pucho Lopez, and many others. He has played at some of the most famous jazz clubs in the world in London, Paris, Chicago, and Berlin.

 

Lazaro Valdes

 

Lazaro Valdes is a musician, composer, and arranger who comes from a strong musical family. Born in 1940, he has played with a number of different musical groups and projects. He has authored many works and is known for developing jazz versions of popular Cuban pieces.

 

Bebo Valdés

 

Bebo Valdés is one of the greatest Cuban musicians of all time. He is a pianist, bandleader, and a composer who began his career in 1938 with the orchestra of Happy D’Ulacia. He has had a long and storied career and a major figure in the golden age of Cuban music that had him traveling the world for over 60 years with various orchestras. Bebo has released countless albums, winning 5 Grammy Awards and has had an album chosen by a New York Times critic as the best album of the year.

 

Ramon Valle

 

Ramon Valle is a pianist, conductor, and composer who studied at the National School of Art in Havana. Born in 1964, he has been hailed as one of the greatest talents of the next generation of Cuban pianists. His style is Cuban Jazz but he prefers to think of his music in a broader sense, telling stories through his music without the need for words. He has traveled throughout Europe and put out many well received unique and original albums.

 

Orlando Valle (Maraca)

 

Orlando Valle is a Flautist, arranger, composer, and conductor who has continuously explored the roots of Cuban music, bringing modernity and style to the genre. He has won many awards for his music and has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as one of the most sought after musicians of the Afro-Cuban style. Maraca, as he is known throughout the music world, has played concerts and festivals all over the Americas and Europe.

 

Ernesto Camilo Vega

 

Ernesto Camilo Vega is a young Cuban clarinetist who creates both classical and modern Cuban music. In both 2002 and 2003 he won the JoJazz contest and in 2009 he won in the Cubadisco Jazz category. He has toured international jazz festivals in Europe and has recorded three albums.

 

Germàn Velazco Urdeliz

 

Germàn Velazco Urdeliz is an internationally recognized Cuban saxophonist. Born in 1957, he began his studies in music at an early age. German served for two years as a member of the band of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. He formally began his musical career in 1976 and was a part of Irakere in 1980, which won a Grammy award that same year. German has performed at numerous international festivals, and has contributed to many albums throughout his long career.

 

Javier Zalba Suàrez

 

Javier Zalba Suàrez is a saxophonist, clarinetist, and flutist who is a skilled performer trained at the National School of Art, graduating in 1976. He plays a wide range of musical genres, including classical, contemporary, folk, and jazz. He has been a part of many Cuban musical groups over the years, including the Tropicana Cabaret Orchestra. He has also taught as a professor at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, the Instituto Superior de Arte, and has given many lectures and workshops around the world.
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