Manuel Valera

Forma Nueva

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Pianist Manuel Valera combines together the influences of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock with a mastery of Afro-Cuban jazz to form his own fresh style. On this modern mainstream set, Valera excels at both straight-ahead and Latin rhythms. Most selections feature a trio with the brilliant bassist John Patitucci and either Horacio Hernández or Bill Stewart on drums, while four numbers add guest saxophonist Seamus Blake. Valera's post-bop originals (all but two of the dozen songs are his) tend to be complex, but some are a bit more accessible than expected due to the rhythmic patterns. The tender version of "Say It (Over and Over Again)" is a change of pace and quite memorable. Overall, this CD serves as proof that Manuel Valera, despite not being that well known yet, is a brilliant and potentially great jazz pianist. Recommended.

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