Manuel Valera

Grammy nominated Cuban pianist and composer Manuel Valera has been an integral part of the New York City jazz scene since his arrival in 2003. Valera has been prolific as a leader of his own groups, side musician on many recordings, and most notably as a composer.

Valera is a prolific composer, having written close to 400 pieces for different formats and genres since the early 2000s. He has been awarded several grants for composition, including Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works in 2006, 2013, and 2017, Dranoff 2 Piano Barcardi Choice commission in 2015 and 2017, and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2019.

As a leader he has released fifteen albums, ranging from solo piano to big band. His sixth record as a leader New Cuban Express was released in 2012 and was nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Latin Jazz Album’ category in 2013. Valera’s projects can be seen performing at clubs and festivals all over the world.

His 2020 releases include Manuel Valera Trio: Live at L’Oson and the much anticipated New Cuban Express Big Band Recording entitled José Martí En Nueva York featuring the work of Cuba’s most famous writer, José Martí. The suite was originally commissioned by Chamber Music America for a small group which has since been expanded for the big band format.

Valera has had the privilege and honor to tour and record extensively with world renowned artist like Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Smith’s Vital Information, Jeff Tain Watts, Dafnis Prieto, and Yosvany Terry.

Press Quotes

“Manuel Valera stands in a long line of virtuoso Cuban-born musicians based in New York. As a pianist, he’s established himself as a versatile first-call musician; as a bandleader, he’s often found new connections between pan-Latin rhythms and modern jazz styles.” – NPR

“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,, 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

Press Inquiries

Chris DiGirolamo
Two for the Show Media