Way back in 1962, reedist Paquito D’Rivera was invited to hear pianist Chucho Valdés at a local club in his Marianao neighbourhood of South Havana.
The two quickly found a rapport with each other and began a musical partnership that helped shape jazz in Cuba. With their shared background in both traditional and popular styles, they made music that spanned jazz, son cubano, classical and mambo.
The pair’s first musical explorations were as members of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, an experimental large ensemble used for stage and screen. After that, they formed Quinteto de la Orquesta Cubana, a small group that focused on jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythmic influence. Their longest collaboration was with jazz-fusion group Irakere, which formed in 1973.
By 1980, D’Rivera had left the country to live in New York, and the two musicians’ paths diverged as they each honed a legacy as one of the most influential and talented artists Cuba has ever produced.
In the U.S., D’Rivera went on to become one of the top woodwind players in jazz and beyond. Valdés remained in Cuba and was the leader of Irakere until 2005 while continuing to perform solo and with various ensembles around the world.
Now, 60 years after their first meeting, the pair has finally reunited to create a monumental new recording called I Missed You Too! It marks D’Rivera and Valdés’s first project together since the Irakere days.
Listen to the first track Mambo Influenciado below.