Percussionist and vocalist Oscar Valdés dies in Havana

Percussionist and vocalist Oscar Valdés dies in Havana

HAVANA, Oct. 19  The Cuban Institute of Music reported today the death in this capital, at the age of 85, of the prominent Cuban percussionist and vocalist Oscar Valdés Campos.In a press release, the entity sent condolences to the family and friends of the Special Prize winner at Cubadisco 2010.

Valdés Campos was born in Havana on November 12, 1937, a member of a notable family of musicians, among whom are his father Oscar (percussionist); His uncles Marcelino (percussionist), Alfredo and Vicentico Valdés, (singers).

In 1949 he started in music, learning the batá touches, the construction of the abakuá drums, the batá and the chekeres, he studied with the teachers Guillermo Barreto, and Salvador Admiral and at the Alejandro García Caturla Conservatory, he studied Timpani.

After 1959, he was part of the Rebel Army Band and Choir, he worked in the CMQ orchestras, the former Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, Benny Moré, Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music.

When the group Irakere was founded, under the direction of Chucho Valdés, he joined their roster as a singer and percussionist, performing at the most important jazz festivals in the world, sharing with high-level musical figures such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

In 2000 he formed the group Diákara and performed jazz returning to folkloric roots, which allowed him to make contemporary music with the use of Afro-Cuban instruments, in which he used three drummers, the electric guitar, three brass, piano and bass.

He made innovative arrangements to recognize songs such as Lágrimas negra, Mamá son de la Loma, A breaking the Coconut and Xiomara.

He taught classes at Universities in France and Argentina and toured Spain and other European countries, and Israel, where in addition to working with the group in clubs and festivals, he offered various courses and conferences.

His disco, “Leyenda Viva”, with Bis Music, a fusion of his folkloric roots with Afrojazz, won the 2010 Cubadisco Special Prize.