Cuban pianist, composer, and seven-time Grammy winner Chucho Valdés is described by popular New York Times news media, as “A pianist of imperial command, possessed of a dazzling, deceptively casual virtuosity,” and identifies Etienne Charles, a composer and trumpet player from Trinidad, as “an auteur.”
On December 16 at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Frederick Street, Port of Spain, these two significant musicians from the Caribbean will play for the first event of HADCO Experiences’ entry into the upscale event sector with A Creole Christmas Gift: Concert and Cocktails.
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According to a press release, Charles’ astute insights and the plaudits bestowed by the international press will influence what concertgoers will see and hear.
Recently, Charles talked about the concert and the significance of Valdés, the main act, to the occasion and the Caribbean. He noted in a recent statement, “I think, one, it’s special, and two, it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime event for TT to have an artist of this magnitude in what I would say is such an intimate setting.”
“Chucho Valdés is probably one of the most influential, not only musicians, but composers and recording artists of the 21st century, and the 20th century. He possesses a vast knowledge of not just the piano, but composition and music, as well as spirituality. To have him on our shores for a concert is special!”
Charles clarified, “A big part of what I see as the Caribbean artistic aesthetic is about clarity, and when I think of Chucho Valdés, I think about clarity. I think of his ideas being expressed musically without any stumbles. I think of his body of work as having a huge impact in terms of where he is taking his music, and what he has been an ambassador for. I mean, he has been an ambassador for jazz, an ambassador for Cuba, an ambassador for the Caribbean, an ambassador for black people, an ambassador for the Orishas.
ways that he represents, and at the end of the day, it’s always with the highest level of artistry and the highest levels of diplomacy. He can use music as a tool to communicate peace, and to communicate how music is supposed to energize people and keep us together in civilized ways.”
It is impossible to overstate or undervalue Valdés’ significance. In the Caribbean jazz scene, he is a titan. According to the announcement, Charles had the good fortune to travel with this icon and his large band during the past several months, taking them to Europe and North America, where they played to thousands of sold-out crowds at venues.
In keeping with his views, Charles said “It’s always incredible to see Chucho’s reach. It’s refreshing also, as a Caribbean man, to see the possibilities of global acceptance of Caribbean music when it is, one, presented correctly, and two when there is an opportunity for this music to have its place on a global stage.”
According to Charles, the movement to bring Valdés to Trinidad was started by Trinis in the expatriate community there following a recent musical performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. “We as a people need to be exposed to this level of artistry without having to buy a plane ticket.” According to him, both Trinidadians and visitors from other Caribbean countries are having unique experiences thanks to the event.
Visitors from other islands are traveling to Trinidad for the show, according to the release, where Valdés will perform with his Royal Quartet, which also features the skillful playing of fellow Cubans José Armando Gola on bass, Roberto Junior Vizcaíno Torre on percussion, and Horatio “El Negro” Hernández on drums.
The release stated that the concert experience offers a creole take on the holiday celebration in a season of yearly Christmas pageants and choral events that occasionally are still dependent on the idea of warm woolen mittens and sleigh rides. It combines sublime music with a post-concert mix and mingle, featuring specialty food, premium drinks, and cocktails.
Among Charles’s many well-liked musical guests are US-based Trinidad music heavyweights David “Happy” Williams on bass and Robert Greenidge on pan, as well as Venezuelan cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem. Another guest artist is singer and creole chanteuse, Vaughnette Bigford. “Her star has been steadily rising…she’s my first choice many times when I do shows, we have some interesting arrangements that I am working on for her,” Charles remarked.
A further approach to celebrating the vibrant and varied music of the season for local audiences is to blend folk and popular music from both local and international songbooks. The Lord Kitchener Auditorium’s “intimate environment” allows the audience to hear the instruments alone, free from outside noise: Charles continues, “You get to hear the warmth of a cuatro, you really get to hear the complexity of the sound of ‘Happy’ William’s bass.”
A Creole Christmas Gift: Concert and Cocktails costs $800 per ticket.
The concert starts at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m.