August 22, 2007

Pianist and bandleader Manuel Valera

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Manuel Valera Quartet will perform Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 8:30 p.m. in Bucknell Hall at Bucknell University. The concert, which is free to the public, is the first in this season's ongoing Jazz at Bucknell First Wednesdays series.

The Cuban-born pianist, bandleader and composer Valera will be joined by New York veterans Joel Frahm on soprano and tenor saxes, James Genus on bass and Ernesto Simpson on drums.

Phil Haynes, producer of Jazz at Bucknell, notes that some may remember Valera from his appearance with Cuban percussionist Dafnis Prieto last year. "Manuel's deft lyrical touch, harmonic sense, 'hip' compositions and powerful young all-star quartet will reveal another side to this rising star's artistic range. I can't wait to hear the music from the group's recent CD, Vientos (Anzic Records) in the intimate acoustics of Bucknell Hall."

The New York Times says, "The blending of Latin music with jazz harmony and improvisation has produced more than a mere hybrid … Manuel Valera, a Cuban pianist in his mid-20s, illustrates that evolution handily: postbop and classical romanticism are as integral to his vocabulary as Latin folk forms, and they all find natural expression in his music."

Award-winning musician

The son of the noted Cuban saxophonist Manuel Valera Sr., the younger Valera studied classical music as a saxophonist in Cuba before enrolling in the piano program at the New School University in New York.

He is a recipient of the 2005 and 2006 ASCAP Young Composers Awards and a final nominee in the Up & Coming Musician of the Year category of the Jazz Journalists Association Awards. He recently was commissioned for the 2007 Chamber Music America New Works Award.

Valera, who has performed and recorded with salsa singer George Lamond, also has performed Paquito D'Rivera, John Benitez, and Eddie Gomez and the Machito Orchestra. He can be heard at jazz clubs around New York City including The Blue Note, Birdland, and Sweet Rhythm and Smoke. For more information or to hear music samples, see

Jazz at Bucknell is a chamber series conceived to present international modern masters and young visionaries, showcasing the entire tradition of jazz, from standards to the Avant-Garde, with an eye on artists who continue the innovative tradition of the music with their personal approaches to sound, style and composition.

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Posted Aug. 22, 2007


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