Renowned Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, a composer and bandleader who recorded with Nat “King” Cole, was musical director at Havana’s legendary Tropicana Club and a key participant in the golden age of Cuban music has died in Sweden at age 94.
The news of his death was confirmed by Cincy Byram, the agent of Valdes’ son Chuco Valdes, who is a well-known musician in his own right. A cause of death was not given. (Miamiherald.com)
In 1994 a CD, Bebo rides again, revived his career. In 2000, The film Calle 54 by Fernando Trueba brought his piano playing to a wide audience. In 2003 he and Diego El Cigala, a famous Spanish flamenco singer, recorded the album Lagrimas Negras, a fusion of Cuban rhythms and flamenco vocals. Valdés has won five Grammy Awards: two for El arte del sabor in 2002, one for Lagrimas Negras, and two for Bebo de Cuba in 2006 (in the categories “Best traditional tropical album” and “Best Latin jazz album”). In 2004 he was again filmed by Trueba, in El milagro de Candeal, in Brazil, and later composed a new score for Trueba’s 2010 film Chico and Rita, whose plot included bits from his own life. Chico and Rita ends with the dedication “a bebo”.
Valdés was first married to Pilar Valdés. This marriage produced five children, one of whom is the pianist Chucho Valdés. In 1963 he married a Swedish woman and started a new family.