Manuel Valera on his new album, ‘José Martí en Nueva York’

We’re getting ready to release the new album from pianist Manuel Valera! on August 28th. Manuel provideed some insights into how his new big band record came to be:

Hello all,

Last year was an amazing year musically for me. I was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed me to work on a couple of big projects.  The main one was written and recording a big band version of my song cycle José Martí en Nueva York. This was written originally in 2015 for a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant. It was great for the small group but I always felt that the piece that honors José Martíshould be a bigger project and that’s when the big band idea came in! I was fortunate to be able to workshop the music all of last year at the wonderful venue in Queens called Terraza 7. This tiny but engaging venue offered us a monthly residence and the project was off to the races.

For those of you who are not aware of who José Martí is, he is possibly the most important Cuban in Cuba’s history. His literary work is known by most Cubans and his contribution to the war of independence against Spain earned him the title of the APOSTLE in Cuba.

When the project was done I wanted to find a label to put it out. I didn’t want just any label – I wanted a label that had high artistic values and I had been talking to Dave about this for a while. We met and he loved the idea. A couple of months later, here we are with my first Greenleaf Music release and first big band record. The record features some amazing musicians including Joel Frahm, Michael Rodriguez, and Roman Filiu to name a few. In addition, we have the great vocalists Camila Meza and Sofia Rei!

This record is very special to me in many ways. This music was written as therapy for me to cope with my wife Lisa having cancer and eventually sadly succumbing to the disease.

Thank you for listening and for your support!

Manuel Valera

You can  pre-order the album now on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon and stream the first single on SpotifyApple Music. and YouTube.