Navigation International Jazzfestival Bern

Opening Night

Saturday, 11th March 2017, 8:00 p.m.

Presenting Partner: Kursaal Bern

Chucho Valdés Trio
Chucho Valdés, p / Yelsy Heredia Figueras, b / Georgis Pico Milian, dr

Joey Alexander Trio
Joey Alexander, p / Reuben Rogers, b / Ulysses Owens Jr., dr

Robi Botos Trio
Robi Botos, p / Mike Downes, b / Larnell Lewis, dr

Chucho Valdés

Chucho Valdés has attained the status of a saint in Cuba for taking the nation's music to the rest of the world, while remaining a mentor to young musicians. This year, Chucho’s album “Tribute To Irakere: Live In Marciac” won a Grammy in the category “Best Latin Jazz Album”!

The son of legendary Cuban pianist, Bebo Valdés, pianist Jesús "Chucho" Valdés was born on October 9, 1941 in the village of Quivicán in the south of Havana. During these formative years, Chucho’s influences among pianists began with his father, and went on to encompass the diversity of the likes of Oscar Peterson, Ernesto Lecuona, Pedro “Peruchín”, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, and many others. His resultant unique style has won him a place of honour in the hall of fame of Cuban pianists. During the early 1960s, he began recording albums as “Chucho Valdés y su Combo”, later joining Elio Reve’s orchestra. In 1967, together with other important young musicians, Chucho founded the “Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna”. Under the direction of Chucho Valdés, eight members of that orchestra went on to form the Afro-Cuban jazz band “Irakere”, that became the vanguard for Latin fusion in the 1970s and which spawned the likes of Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. As the leader and chief composer of “Irakere”, Chucho combined the influences of musicians such as Art Tatum, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner with Afro-Cuban roots and a blazing rhythmic technique. In 1978, “Irakere’s” first album won a Grammy Award. They went on to record many more albums and bring out new Cuban talent for over two decades. In 1998, Blue Note Records released Chucho’s solo debut “Bele Bele en la Habana”, landing at and near the No 1 spot on virtually every American jazz critic’s year-end Top Ten poll. Since then, apart from his continues involvement with “Irakere”, Chucho has been working with his own Afro-Cuban jazz groups. He has a mastery piano technique and is often compared to Art Tatum for his ability to turn harmonic conventions inside-out at light speed. He synthesises deep elements of classical music, Afro-Cuban folklore and jazz. Chucho Valdés has recorded countless releases under his name and as a guest for many other artists. He won 6 Grammy Awards to date.

Joey Alexander

Joey Alexander

Born on the island of Bali in the city of Denpasar in 2003, Joey Alexander first encountered a piano at the age of six, and was immediately able to pick out the melody of jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear. His father, an amateur musician, nurtured Joey’s gift for swing and improvisation by introducing him to classic jazz recordings and taking him to jam sessions with seasoned musicians in Bali and Jakarta. From there, his musical intuition flourished, as did his love of playing jazz. Learning by listening, Joey’s early influences include Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and John Coltrane, and he has a special affinity for trumpet players including Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Despite his lack of formal jazz training, Joey developed an authoritative technique, and with his depth of musicality he quickly rose in the Indonesian jazz scene and beyond. At age 8, UNESCO invited Joey to play solo piano in front of jazz icon Herbie Hancock during his visit to Indonesia. Joey drew significant inspiration from Herbie’s enthusiastic response to his playing. At age 10, Joey was featured at jazz festivals in both Jakarta and Copenhagen, and he won the international improvisation contest in Odessa, Ukraine – besting over 200 jazz professionals from 17 countries. In 2014, Joey performed at star-studded galas in New York City for Jazz at Lincoln Center in Rose Hall, the Jazz Foundation of America at the Apollo and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center at Gotham Hall. In May 12, 2015, Joey Alexander released his highly anticipated debut album ‘My Favorite Things’ on the Grammy-winning Harlem-based label Motema Music. On his debut recording, Alexander performs classic tunes from Coltrane to Rodgers & Hammerstein with a deft touch, adventurous spirit and improvisatory verve. ‘My Favorite Things’ was produced by Grammy-winning producer Jason Olaine and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016. Joey has already been invited to perform at venues including the Rochester Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, International Jazzfestival Bern 2016 and a TED conference. The sky appears to be the limit for this soulful young artist. This year, Joey was again nominated for a Grammy – in the category “Best Improvised Jazz Solo” for his tune “Countdown”!

Robi Botos

Hungarian born Robi Botos was raised in a musical family and began his musical career when he was a child, growing up in Budapest. It was at age seven when Robi first took up piano. Robi immigrated to Canada in 1998 and is now a permanent resident of the country he calls home. Shortly after coming to Canada, Robi caught the ear of Canadian Jazz great Oscar Peterson and quickly became his protégé. To this day, Robi remains a disciple of Dr. Peterson’s mighty sense of swing and technical virtuosity. Along with this influence, Robi possesses a deep tradition in Romani, Hungarian and European Folk and Classical music. This fusion of North American Bebop, Hard Bop, and Modern Jazz along with the deep tradition of Folk music in Eastern Europe and Romantic Classical music, has formulated a sound and approach that is formidable and unsurpassed. Many of Jazz’s greatest musicians consider Robi to be one of the few young leaders on the piano worldwide. Musicians from Branford Marsalis to Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, and many more consider Robi to be one of the greats on the instrument. Robi’s dynamic live performances have earned him international recognition – winning numerous competitions around the world. Robi has been nominated for two Juno Awards and won as a part of Mike Downes’ Trio in 2014. At the National Jazz Awards in 2007 Robi was chosen as Keyboardist of the Year, and in 2007 Robi was awarded Best Jazz Artist from NOW Magazine. Robi’s debut album, “Place To Place”, was one of the most anticipated Canadian jazz albums of 2011. In 2012, Robi and his trio won the coveted TD Grand Jazz Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In 2013, Robi was involved in two film projects that were significant in his career. The first was the Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon film “Arbitrage”, which was nominated for a Golden Globe, and Robi performed the closing scene and end credit recording for the movie. Robi also wrote the score for the Producer Guild Awards nominated ‘A People Uncounted’ which documents the struggles and the rich artistry of the Romani people. In early March of 2013, Robi was involved in a special commemorative concert to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the legendary Oscar Peterson album, ‘Night Train’. This concert occurred in Oscar’s hometown of Montreal and featured Robi leading the trio with former Oscar Peterson band mates, Dave Young on bass and Alvin Queen on drums. Robi has played and/or recorded with musicians like Dave Young, Alvin Queen, Molly Johnson, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Robert Hurst, Seamus Blake and many others.


Sat., 11th March 2017, 8:00 p.m.
(Doors 7:00 p.m.)

Presenting Partner

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