An album in homage to the Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés and the mythical musical group Irakere, of which he is the founder, was presented this Friday in Havana by the Recording and Musical Editions Company (EGREM), the main state record company on the island. .
The album “Los Herederos, tribute to Chucho Valdés and Irakere” contains ten songs that range from traditional rhythms to the most contemporary and electronic of Cuban music, performed by renowned instrumentalists and singers from the Caribbean country.
EGREM commented on its Twitter profile that the “album will go down in history” and highlighted that this original idea by producer Elsida González brings together “musicians who were and/or others who feel part of the legacy of Irakere, the best band Cuban of all time”.
The album contains six songs composed by former Irakere members Orlando Valle Maraca, Germán Velazco, César López and the recently deceased José Luis Cortés, another three by Chucho Valdés, and a potpourri from the Irakere repertoire.
Among the 63 musicians participating in the project are Gastón Joya, Rolando Luna, Yasek Manzano, Cimafunk, Alejandro Falcón, Alexander Abreu, Cucurucho Valdés, Harold López-Nussa, Yaroldy Abreu, Enrique Plá, Rodny Barreto, Alfred Thompson and Rolando Luna. Some of them are former members of Irakere and from different generations.
Jessie and Leyanis Valdés, sons of Chucho Valdés, also took part, as well as his nephew, Roberto Carlos Rodríguez Valdés, known in the artistic environment as “Cucurucho Valdés”.
For the recording, a band was formed with the original format of Irakere and guest singers Alain Pérez, Issac Delgado, Haila María Mompié, Leo Vera, Mayito Rivera, Geidy Chapman and Cimafunk joined.
The creation process is collected in a behind-the-scenes/documentary with testimonials from the participants, who recall their time in Irakere and the mark left to them by the group’s leader.
Chucho Valdés, 80 years old – and winner of six Grammy Awards – has suggested that, in 2023, when it will be five decades since the founding of the band “the year be dedicated to it and we make a new version of Irakere. Maybe with some of the founding members.”
Irakere – whose name in the language of the African Yoruba ethnic group means “vegetation” – was formed in 1973 with the best musicians who were then members of the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music.
Through the combination, mix and interrelation of classical, jazz, rock and various composition techniques, they managed to compile dance music, concert music, traditional Cuban music.
The group recorded a dozen albums: the first of them, “Chekere”, in 1979, which was joined by “El Coco” (1980), “The Legendary Irakere in London” (1987), “Homenaje a Benny Moré” ( 1989), “Great Moments” (1991), “Live at Ronnie Scott’s” (1991), “Misa Negra” (1992), “Bailando Así” (1995), “Babalú Ayé (1998), “Yemayá” (1999) , “Indestructible” (1999) and “Pare Cochero” (2001).
Irakere mixed electronic sounds with those of Afro-Cuban roots in a project considered a synthesis of the historical development of Cuban, Latin American, North American and European music, all of which allowed him to create a new, original, contemporary sound.