Music News

Cuban Flautist Orlando "Maraca" Valle Wants to Party



Lo Que Quiero Es Fiesta!!!


On his first collection of new music in four years, Havana-based maestro Orlando “Maraca” Valle returns to the spotlight with a collection of tunes that basically celebrate life and the need to enjoy it to the fullest. As a former alum of Irakere (whose previous members include Arturo Sandoval and Chucho Valdés), Valle inserts various musical elements into the traditional music of his country with flair and creativity. One example of this is the slow rumba “El Verano,” which invites listeners to enjoy the beaches and the permanent summer of Cuba. In this festive mode, Valle includes a complex funk-inflected arrangement that serves as the perfect backdrop for his improvisations on the flute.

The album’s title track (which translates as “What I Want is to Party”) is more organic, with several Afro-Cuban percussive elements that are brought together in a jazzier direction than ordinarily heard in this format. Also memorable are the tunes “Guajira para Mimi,” which features guest guitarist Elmer Ferrer, who plays some cool guitar riffs in a call-and-response mode with the brass section and “Mala Suerte,” a good-humored tune about a guy whose amorous adventures always end in a sour note. On the same style is the very electric “Los Feos,” which argues in behalf of less than attractive men who are rejected on the dance floor, reminding women that they might be ugly, but they still have their moves.

Lo Que Quiero Es Fiesta!!! is a great example of what modern Cuban musicians are doing while still living on Fidel's island. Unlike many of his compatriots, Valle did not defect to Miami after winning acclaim as a bandleader and composer. Instead, he has remained in his native Havana, where he works as a music producer when he is not touring the world – which he has done extensively since 1996 and shows no signs of ever slowing down. -- Ernest Barteldes.

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Jonathan Cunningham