Manuel Valera's Bio
Based in New York City, 2013 Grammy nominated artist, pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jeff “Tain” Watts, , John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry among many others. Manuel is also the leader of the New Cuban Express. His 6th record as a leader New Cuban Express was released in June/2012 and was nominated for the 2013 Grammys in the Best Latin Jazz Album category. In September/2013 the New Cuban Express released its sophomore record Expectativas.
His ensemble New Cuban Express features some of the most in demand players in the NYC scene today. Yosvany Terry on saxophone, Tom Guarna on guitar, John Benitez on bass, Ludwig Afonso on drums and Mauricio Herrera on Percussion. This group explores and fuses the music of Cuba with Jazz. All the members of the band are well versed in Latin and Jazz vocabulary allowing the group to have a sound can be authentic in both genres.
His critically acclaimed debut cd in 2004 Forma Nueva (MAVO) features John Patitucci, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake. Historia (Fresh Sounds New Talent, 2005), a jazz quartet with Antonio Sanchez, Seamus Blake and Ben Street. His third release Melancolia (MAVO,2006)—employs a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom. Vientos (Anzic, 2007),representing a new working quartet, features bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth and trio recording Currents (MaxJazz 2009) features Ernesto Simpson and James Genus.
In addition, he has been awarded several grants for composition most notably Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works in 2006 and 2013 and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Manuel has travelled the world performing in over 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals.
"He leaves no doubt that he is destined to play a role in the future of jazz."
-Philip Van Vleck, Billboard
"The sound is both old and spectacularly new in terms of his re-invention of the music of a tradition to which he is inextricably linked. And this increases Valera’s importance as a musician in the arena of Afro-Cuban music."
-Raul da Gama, Latin Jazz Network, June 2012
"New Cuban Express is one of the best new Latin Jazz releases we’ve heard this year (or in a while, frankly), and sets a bar that will be hard for others to jump over."
-Bill Tilford, Timba.com, June 2012
"With New Cuban Express, Valera stakes his claim for the establishment of a new sound in fusing rhythms of Latin with elements of modern/fusion."
-Edward Bianco, EJazz News, June 2012