Bebo Valdes and Javier Colina – Live at the Village Vanguard

Bebo Valdes and Javier Colina
Live at the Village Vanguard
Sony Bmg – 2008

According to the Dictionary of Latin Jazz written by Nat Chediak and edited by Fernando Trueba, Bebo Vald�s was born on 9th October 1918 in Quivic�n (Cuba) and is “the key figure in the golden age of Cuban music”. It is a golden age that has been preserved in time because, on September 30th, on the verge of his 89th birthday, the genial pianist releases the album Live at the Village Vanguard, recorded live in November 2005 at the New York cathedral of jazz, and accompanied by the double bassist Javier Colina. Produced by Nat Chediak and Fernando Trueba, the album is a compendium of the mastery of Bebo Vald�s, of his ability to distill the most essential elements of Cuban music and jazz, with the sole accompaniment of another great, Javier Colina, who according to the pianist is “one of the best bass players I have played with in my entire life, and certainly the most accomplished”.

On 10th November 2005, the prestigious critic Ben Ratliff wrote a review of the performance at the Village Vanguard for The New York Times: “Bebo, accompanied solely by the bassist Javier Colina, played with an easy grace, as if he were playing for a group of friends. His playing contained an older man’s sense of sleek propriety; he left no chord unresolved, and never hit hard for the sake of hitting hard”. The comments about Javier Colina were no less full of praise: “Javier Colina was the perfect compliment to the music of Bebo Vaid�s” (Ben Ratliff). “Colina showed he is a sensitive accompanist who benefits from the subtle ingenuity of the pianist” (Larry Blumenfeld in Village Voice). The fervour and rapture of the crowd’s reaction make themselves known on the album – extending to singing on some songs – and are worth mentioning because the Village Vanguard is not just any stage. Since its opening in 1935, the mythical venue on Seventh Avenue in New York has attracted all the jazz greats. Amongst many other legends, the following have recorded incredible live albums here: John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz and Bill Evans, who Bebo Vald�s remembers on this album.

Live at the Village Vanguard contains 14 songs. From compositions written by Bebo Vald�s (Con poco coca, Ritmando el cha-cha-cha, Bebo’s Blues) to classics by Ernesto Lecuona (Andalucla, Siboney), via ageless boleros or bolero-tinged songs (Sabor a ml, Aquellos ojos verdes, Tres palabras, Rosa mustia, Si te con tara), a composition of Jerome Kern (Yesterdays) and a few popular classics (Bilongo, El manisero), without forgetting such monuments as Waltz for Debby, originally recorded in 1961 by its composer Bill Evans on the same stage at the Village Vanguard Live at the Village Vanguard is the latest album from Bebo Vald�s. It is an album which joins some illustrious company in the form of Bebo Vald�s’s discography of the last few years; albums that have won the pianist a number of awards, the highlights of which were seven Grammy awards for the albums Bebo, Bebo de Cuba, El arte del sabor, La’grimas negras and the DVD Blanco y Negro: Bebo & Cigala en directo; an Ondas Award, four Premios de a M�sica and four Amigo Awards for L�grimas negras; and two Premios de Ia Misica and the Jazz Journalist Award for Bebo de Cuba. It is without doubt an unparalleled record for one of the greatest pianists of our time.

“The further he got into the set, the greater grew his vision of music, beyond the place and time that formed him”, said Ben Ratliff of Bebo Vald�s’s performance at the Village Vanguard. A concert which is now released on an album which serves as a unique document, a reflection of the purity and serenity which comes with experience and knowledge of playing. Almost a century of wonderful music condensed into one exceptional album.