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Blog // Travel
March 17, 2007

Chucho Valdes

Last night we enjoyed an evening performance with Chucho Valdes, and his quartet (as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival). Whilst Valdes has not always been one of my favourite musicans, he is without doubt a monster player and distinct voice in the Latin Jazz world. A few criticisms first. The sound and lighting […]

Last night we enjoyed an evening performance with Chucho Valdes, and his quartet (as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival). Whilst Valdes has not always been one of my favourite musicans, he is without doubt a monster player and distinct voice in the Latin Jazz world.

A few criticisms first. The sound and lighting quality throughout the concert was just awful and clearly a frustration to the musicians. Repeated low range feedback, poorly mixed drums, consistently missed spotlights, random and distracting light effects, too much compression and incorrect eq on the bass and probably the worst piano sound I have ever heard in a major concert. The overall soundstage was tiny and remiscent of an mp3, which is outrageous given the large concert venue, quality of the performers and the occasion. Whilst the festival organisers deserve kudos for booking some great acts, they really should be ashamed for dishing up this show with such poor production values.

Morever, it was frustrating having booked on the opening day of sales, in the highest price band, to see a lot of empty seats in front of us. Finally, whilst the audience was enthusiastic and warm (for Hong Kong), it was annoying to have them repeatedly break into applause well before solos and songs were finished as well as not applaud two of the best short solos of the night.

But on the positive side, is was a pleasure to experience Valdes’ mastery of the piano in concert. He has an awesome technique and musical vocabulary, effortlessly blending classical, pan-Latin, modern and standards jazz into an extended soloing vocabulary.

His combo was able, if occasionally held back by the rock-ish drums of Juan Carlos Castro Roja. Despite the limitations of the sound, bassplayer Lazaro Rivero Alarc??n was more than able, grooving when needed and riffing tightly with Valdes when the score demaned it. Yaroldy Abreu Robles was entertaining on congas and percussion, but I felt like he could have offered a lot more in a more open and swampy situation. His best work came during the moments with a more strictly clave-driven groove.

It wasn’t a great concert, hampered as it was by the sub-professional lighting and sound. However, I’m glad we went and it was inspiring to see Valdes perform. I would jump at the chance to see him in concert again!

The image above and more can be found here.

[tags] Chucho Valdes, Hong Kong Arts Festival [/tags]

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