Pianist Manuel Valera releases the second album from his New Cuban Express Big Band, featuring eight original compositions arranged for large ensemble that fuse the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil to forge innovative sounds and textures.

Available now on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and all streaming services.

Released on March 18, 2022.

Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Manuel Valera (Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Smith) hails from Cuba and is an integral part of the New York City’s vibrant music scene. Distancia is the second album from his New Cuban Express Big Band, a spirited ensemble that fuses the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil to forge innovative sounds and textures.

The album draws upon searing personal experiences – going through personal loss, and having to pick up the pieces to move forward. Valera uses the broad palette of the big band to express a wide range of moods and emotions. From the haunting “From Afar,” to the buoyant “Expectativas”, and the fiery “Gemini,” the writing is dynamic and varied and the ensemble brings out the nuances with both grace and gusto.

The band features some of New York’s best creative musicians, including vocalists Camila Meza and Bogna Kicińska as well as standout soloists Charles Pillow, Remy Le Boeuf, and Mike Fahie. Produced by Kabir Sehgal (Chucho Valdés, Arturo O’Farrill) and Doug Davis (Brian Lynch, John Daversa), Manuel Valera presents a very personal album of engaging contemporary big band jazz.

Track Details

1. Expectativas
2. Gemini
3. From Afar
4. Pathways
5. From The Ashes
6. Impressionistic Romance
7. Distancia
8. Remembered

Total time: 60:06


Camila Meza, voice (3, 4)
Bogna Kicińska, voice (7)

Brian Pareschi (lead)
Michael Rodriguez (3, 5, 6, 8)
Stuart Mack (on all except 5 & 8)
David Smith
Alex Norris (on all except 3 & 6)

Michael Thomas, alto sax, soprano sax & flute
Roman Filiu, alto sax & flute (3, 5, 6, 8)
Remy Le Boeuf, alto sax & flute (1, 2, 4, 7)
Joel Frahm, tenor saxophone (3, 5, 6, 8)
Jeremy Powell, tenor saxophone, clarinet (1, 2, 4, 7)
Andrew Gutauskas, baritone saxophone & bass clarinet

Matt Macdonald (lead)
John Yao (3, 5, 6, 8)
Mike Fahie (1, 2, 4, 7)
Andy Clausen (3, 5, 6, 8)
Sam Blakeslee (1, 2, 4, 7)
Jeff Nelson, bass trombone

Manuel Valera, piano
Alex Goodman, guitar
Ricky Rodriguez, bass (3, 5, 6, 8)
Hamish Smith, bass (1, 2, 4, 7)
Jimmy Macbride, drums
Samuel Torres, percussion

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Producer: Kabir Sehgal, Doug Davis, & Manuel Valera
Recorded at Orange Sheep Studios on December 8 & 9, 2019 and Oct 1 & 9, 2020
Recording engineer: Chris Berham
Mixing and mastering engineer: Oscar Autie

All compositions by Manuel Valera (ValeraMusic / ASCAP)

Press Inquiries

Chris DiGirolamo
Two for the Show Media


Facebook: @manuelvalera
Instagram: @manuelvalerajazzpiano