02. Sea Mail
04. Que Pasa?
06. Cuba Libre (Reprise)
Alto Saxophone – German Velazco Urdeliz
Bass – Carlos Puerto
Drums – Enrique Plá
Guitar – Carlos Emilio Morales
Keyboards – Chucho Valdés
Percussion – Jorge Alfonso, Oscar Valdés
Tenor Saxophone – Carlos Averhoff
Trumpet – Arturo Sandoval, Jorge Varona
Written-By, Composed By, Arranged By, Producer – Chikara Ueda
Artwork [Front Cover ("Tres Lindas Cubas")] – Servando Cabrera Moreno
Recorded at Sound Inn Studio, Tokyo, August 3,4,5, 1980
Irakere is a Cuban band founded in Havana, 1973 by Armando de Sequeira Romeu and Chucho Valdes. They combine the power of Cuban rhythms with a free-flowing expression of American jazz; they created a force that changed the course of Cuban popular music. Many of the top Cuban jazz musicians have played in Irakere during the past several decades, including altoist Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval (before both individually defected). Pianist Chucho Valdes has been the orchestra's longtime leader; its music ranges from Latin jazz and bop to Cuban folk melodies, with an emphasis on infectious rhythms and advanced improvisations. Several of Irakere's records have been made available domestically (including sets for Columbia and Jazz House,). Irakere were allowed to appear at the Newport Jazz Festival in the summer of 1978 where the group really made an impact on the audience. This appearance was to be followed by another crowd pleasing performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. One result of the fantastic performances was a recording contract with Columbia Records who released both ‘Irakere’ and ‘Irakere 2’ which both won awards at The Latin Grammy’s in 1979 and 1980. Unfortunately, Columbia Records later dropped Irakere from their label. However, the two albums they got to do did excel the bands popularity massively keeping them held in high esteem by their fans.
Irakere were extremely important to the rise of Cuban music. Prior to the explosion of Buena Vista Social Club they were the leading and best loved Cuban band on the international stage. The band has a cult following around the world obsessed with the genius musicianship and song-writing of these Cuban legends. Chucho Valdes is regarded as the greatest jazz pianist in Cuba and Arturo Sandoval is arguably the most prodigious trumpeter of his generation, both going on to great individual fame in the United States. The only change from the early recordings sees Paquito D’ Rivera replaced by the brilliant German Velazco Vrdeliz on sax, with many of the best Cuban musicians of the period remaining to deliver stunning performances for this fascinating session.
In 1980 Irakere recorded ‘Cuba Libre’ in Japan; it was composed, arranged and produced by the remarkable Japanese musician Chikara Ueda. Almost the entire original line up was in place including Chucho Valdes, Arturo Sandoval and Jorge Alfonso.
Extremely rare, cult record from one of the finest bands to emerge from Cuba. Recorded in Japan in 1980 and released as a Japanese exclusive vinyl LP ‘Cuba Libre’ was composed, arranged and produced by the remarkable Japanese musician Chikara Ueda. With almost the entire original line up in place including Chucho Valdes, Arturo Sandoval, and Jorge Alfonso this is a record of sublime quality that retains all of the authentic essence and beauty of Cuban music. Among the most influential Latin bands Irakere’s mix of fiery funk anthems and sophisticated jazz has rarely sounded better than on these six classic tracks.
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