One of the best trombone players in the Latin-jazz community of the 1990s, Juan Pablo Torres provided a crucial role in recordings by Paquito D'Rivera, Charles Azvanour and Gilberto Santa Rosa. In addition, the Cuban recorded at least two dozen LPs of his own while sitting in with others.
The son of the noted musician Bebo Valdes, Chucho began playing piano when he was three and by the time he was 16 he was leading his own group. In 1960 his father defected from Cuba but Chucho stayed behind. In 1967, he formed the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and, in 1973, he founded Irakere, the top Cuban jazz orchestra; among its original members were Arturo Sandoval, Juan Pablo Torres and Paquito D'Rivera, all too from the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. Valdes has been Irakere's musical director almost from the start and has recorded with the full band, in small groups, and as an impressive solo pianist. He remains one of the top jazz musicians living in Cuba.
A blazing, technically flawless trumpeter from Cuba, Arturo Sandoval has been dazzling audiences all over the world with his supercharged tone and bop-flavored flurries way up in the trumpet's highest register. In slower numbers, he sports a golden, mellow tone on the flugelhorn, marked with a sure, subtle sense of swing. Apparently he is capable of playing anything, proving it more than once by tackling classical repertoire as well as jazz in the same concert, and he has enough curiosity to search far beyond his Cubop base for repertory.