Album Reviews

Manuel Valera Trio

The Seasons

Artist:     Manuel Valera Trio

Album:     The Seasons

Label:     Mayo Records

Release Date:     03/28/2017

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Only in his thirties, Cuban-born Manuel Valera’s piano and compositions sound and play like an old spry and sprightly professor waiting to take the young turks on. His fluidity and lyricism, his command of the whole 88, and his pop and enthusiastic sense of craft put him in direct lineage with other Cuban jazz legends, bandleader Bebo Valdes and his trailblazing son, pianist Chucho Valdez.

A 2013 Grammy nominee, Valera’s latest is inspired by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, but it captures the inspiration of one day in the studio. The music, as was the maestro’s, is an expansive, harmonious piece, brought to life by equal parts of fire and quiet. EJ Strickland’s muscular drums whisper and propel, while bassist Hans Glawischnig creates the landscape upon which Valera’s robust piano winds. Four cover tunes, including thoughtful interpretations of Lennon/McCartney’s “In My Life” and Leonard Cohen’s immortal “Hallelujah” add to the passage of life through The Seasons.

—Mike Jurkovic

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