Manuel Valera New Cuban Express – November 7, 2014

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express –  Bronx Museum of the Arts  –  November 7, 2014

One more new venue for me, hooray for the Bronx.  I’d earlier caught a permutation of parts of this combo under Yosvanny Terry’s leadership; here the gig was Valera’s (who actually remembered me sketching him back in 2012).  The Cuban jazz angle was enough to rope me in, but the repertoire had a more wide-ranging complexity.  There was an extended song-cycle segment “Marti en Nueva York” based on José Martí’s poetry (yes, the Cuban revolutionary was also a poet and journalist, and lived for a time in NYC) that brought in the vocalist Sofía Rei.  It was not necessary to understand a word of Spanish to have a robust appreciation of this moving work.  It was fun to watch the percussion interplay between Calvaire and Herrera; one would suggest a figure, and it would then bounce back and forth, embellished, as their grins widened.

Manuel Valera

Sofia Rei

Luques Curtis

Obed Calvaire

Yosvanny Terry

Tom Guarna

Mauricio Herrera

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