Probably one of the biggest names in Cuban jazz for the last four decades, pianist Chucho Valdes first came into prominence in the early 1970s as the co-leader of the legendary fusion group Irakere (which also featured trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’ Rivera, among others). However, unlike many of his bandmates, Valdes did not leave his native island, opting to continue his career based in Havana.
That decision left him unable to play in the United States during the Bush era, as the former president tightened travel rules for Cuban artists residing in Cuba into the US. Thankfully, the Obama administration lifted those restrictions, which has made it possible for Valdes (after a seven-year hiatus) and others to finally perform in the US again.
On his latest project with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, Valdes explores the roots of Yoruba, an Afro-Caribbean religion practiced in various Latin American countries (also known as Candomble in Brazil). The music is highly percussive, and evokes both spirituality and musicianship. This is a show not to be missed. (Ernest Barteldes)
October 10 at Symphony Center, 7pm, 220 South Michigan, (312)294-3000. $ 15-$70.