New release: Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band

We’re announcing a new artist: pianist and composer Manuel Valera!

We’re excited to present the dynamic debut of Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band. José Martí en Nueva York is inspired by famed Cuban writer and independence hero José Martí. The album features Valera’s song cycle of original music based on nine poems from Martí’s seminal 1891 collection, “Versos Sencillos.”

Addressing a range of political and societal issues that are relevant even today, the texts are set for two unique vocalists, Sofia Rei and Camila Meza. Valera uses the broad palette of the big band to express a wide breadth of moods and emotions, touching on traditional Cuban music styles (Danzón, bolero) as well as modern Latin jazz to give Martí’s poetry new life.

The album’s large ensemble features some of New York’s best creative musicians, including standout soloists Michael RodriguezRoman FiliuJoel Frahm, and Mauricio Herrera. Produced by Kabir Sehgal and Doug Davis, the album is modern big band jazz with a message. Born out of the crisis of Valera’s loss of his wife to cancer last year, Jose Marti en Nueva York is a personal cry for freedom, justice, and an expression of passion.

The album will be released on August 28th. Pre-order will begin on July 24th. Check out all the album information below and watch this space for more details!

Track Details:

1. Odio La Mascara Y El Vicio (feat. Camila Meza) 8:27
2. Es Rubia, El Cabello Suelto (feat. Sofia Rei) 7:22
3. Por Sus Ojos Encendidos (feat. Camila Meza) 11:46
4. Yo Quiero Salir Del Mundo / Yo Pienso Cuando Me Alegro (feat. Camila Meza) 7:52
5. El Enemigo Brutal (feat. Sofia Rei) 10:08
6. Tiene El Leopardo Un Abrigo / Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca (feat. Sofia Rei) 7:57
7. Si Quiere Que De Este Mundo (feat. Sofia Rei) 8:07

Total CD run time: 61:39


Camila Meza (1, 3, 4)
Sofia Rei (2, 5, 6, 7)

John Walsh (Lead on 1, 3)
Brian Pareschi (Lead on 4-7)
Michael Rodriguez
David Smith
Alex Norris

Michael Thomas (Lead Alto and Soprano Saxophones, C and Piccolo Flutes)
Roman Filiu (Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Flute and Alto Flute)
Joel Frahm (Tenor and Soprano Saxophones)
Charles Pillow (Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet)
Andrew Gutauskas (Baritone Saxophone and Bass Clarinet)

Matt McDonald (Lead)
John Yao
Andy Clausen
Jeff Nelson (Bass)

Rhythm Section:
Manuel Valera (Piano, Celeste and Keyboards)
Alex Goodman (Guitar)
Ricky Rodriguez (Bass)
Jimmy Macbride (Drums)
Samuel Torres (Percussion on all except 2, 5)
Mauricio Herrera (Percussion on 2, 5)

Production Credits:

Executive Producers: Dave Douglas, Roberto Occhipinti, Kabir Sehgal, Ali Hirsa and Manuel Valera
Producers: Kabir Sehgal, Doug Davis, Manuel Valera
Recording Engineer: Chris Benham
Mixing and Mastering Engineer: Oscar Autie
Recorded at Big Orange Sheep Studios on December 9-10, 2019
Mixed and Mastered at El Cerrito Studio CA
Portrait photography Mariana Meraz
Cover art by Josefina Soto Perez
Design by Lukas Frei