This album is available for download at the ITUNES MUSIC STORE
Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez-Drums (tracks 2,4,5,7,10,11)
Bill Stewart-Drums (tracks 1,3,6,8,9,12)
Forma Nueva is the debut release for 23 year old Cuban Pianist Manuel Valera. Following are the liner notes from Jazz Writer Howard Mandel.
Manuel Valera unveils an intensely lyrical sensibility in his debut cd, Forma Nueva. With style and taste, he is informed by something innate. In conversation, he is modest about his musical insight and exactitude, but his approach is informed by close listening to an array of canonical and contemporary artists-Chopin to Chick Corea-as well as keyboard studies that he continues, well past the demands of any school.
Valera is no iconoclastic revolutionary, rather an innovative developmentalist. He has a rich harmonic approach and a fascination for the line between control and release. He smoothly breaks from vernacular patterns, makes a strong statement, then returns to his launching point-demonstrating mastery of structures old and new. His compositions and improvisations are muted, reflective, balladic, soothing and moving. He doesn't play hard, fast jazz here, nor folkloric Cuban music, but offers a synthesis of his influences and experiences, filtered through genuine artistry, springing a fresh and distinctive take on the enduring, malleable tradition of Latin jazz.
Yes, he's steeped in composers of compatible sensibilities, yet he sounds like no one so much as himself. It's an unalloyed pleasure to discover a young man so accomplished that his potential seems boundless. Pianist-composer Manuel Valera promises, and indeed delivers, throughout Forma Nueva.
More on Manuel:
Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger, Manuel Valera is in the forefront of contemporary modern jazz. He represents the next generation of great performers and composers.
His sound is fresh, inviting and evocative, and his goal is to forge innovative sounds that bring a vitality and newness to the idioms of jazz and Latin jazz. He is constantly workshopping musical ideas to develop new composition and arranging techniques that bring together Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian and various jazz styles and forms.
In late October, just two days after his 23rd birthday, Manuel recorded his debut cd, Forma Nueva-a modern jazz cd of contemporary originals featuring John Patitucci, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake.
Currently, Manuel leads a jazz/latin project, which incorporates world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom, featuring Antonio Sánchez (drums), Ben Street (bass), Seamus Blake (sax), Luisito Quintero (perc) and a string quartet.
The son of Cuban saxophonist Manuel Valera Senior, he has played with Paquito D' Rivera, John Benitez, Donny McCaslin, Claudio Roditi, Bobby Sanabria, Giovanni Hildago, Dave Valentin, Nelson Gonzales, Juan Pablo Torres, William Cepeda, Eddie Gomez and the Machito Orchestra. Manuel has performed and recorded with salsa singer George Lamond and has studied with Reggie Workman, George Garzone, Jane Ira Bloom, Gerard D'Angelo and Richie Bierach among others. He has performed as sideman at various clubs around New York City, including the Blue Note, Birdland, the 55 Bar, Sweet Rhythm and Smoke. Manuel graduated from Havana's Conservatory Manuel Saumell and from the New School University in New York City with a performance degree. Manuel won second place in the 2004 Great American Jazz Competition.