- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes dies in Sweden at age 94
Question of the Day
MADRID (AP) - Renowned Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, a composer and bandleader who recorded with Nat “King” Cole, was musical director at Havana’s legendary Tropicana Club and a key participant in the golden age of Cuban music, has died in Sweden at age 94.
The father began playing accompaniments at Havana’s famous night clubs in the 1940s. He then worked with singer Rita Montaner as her pianist and arranger from 1948 to 1957, when she was the lead cabaret act at the Tropicana.
His orchestra Sabor de Cuba also accompanied singers Benny More and Pio Leyva at the club. It was during this period that he and rival bandleader Perez Prado developed the mambo, a rhythmic style of dance music that swept the world. Valdes and his orchestra devised another rhythm called the batanga which he said helped differentiate his sound from Perez Prado’s.
“I was a jazz musician from a very young age,” Valdes once said. “I started playing like the first jazz pianist I heard, a guy who was popular when I was a kid: Eddy Duchin.” He said other influences were Fats Waller, Art Tatum, and Bill Evans.
In 1958, he worked on Nat “King” Cole’s album “Cole Espanol,” collaborating with arranger Nelson Riddle on the orchestral backing tracks that were all recorded in Havana. He also worked with singers Lucho Gatica and Mona Bell.
Valdes said one day a revolutionary guard went to his house demanding the pianist accompany him to a plaza where Castro was giving a speech. “I asked if there was going to be music there and he replied to me that Castro was music,” he said, adding that he then knew it was time to go.
After a brief stay in the United States, Valdes set off on a European tour.
Valdes went to Stockholm in 1963 for a concert with the Lecuona Cuban Boys and fell in love with a Swedish woman, Rose Marie Pehrson, a cavalry officer’s daughter.
They got married the same year and he settled in Sweden. He described it as the most important moment of his life.
“It was like being hit by lightning,” he said. “If you meet a woman and you want to change your life you have to choose between love and art.”
Valdes lived in Stockholm until 2007 where he often struggled to interest people in Cuban music and Latin jazz. He earned a meager living playing in restaurants, on boat cruises and in some of Stockholm’s finest hotels, although he said he did once consider becoming a bus or taxi driver.
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world