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R.I.P. Bebo Valdez

I just got word that one of the masters of Cuban music, Bebo Valdez, has passed away. I will never forget the time I was asked to sub on a recording session with Mr. Valdez in November of 2002 at Avatar Studios in New York. Todd Barkan assembled an “all-star” group of musician for Bebo’s first recording session in the United States. That’s me (when I had hair) at the bottom left of the picture, next to the headphone box. I was surrounded by the heaviest of heavy-weights. I was totally out of my league and I will never forget the experience and am grateful to Ray Vega for sending me to the session. To this day, I don’t know if any of my notes made it on the album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. But to me it didn’t matter. The opportunity to participate in the day-long session was one of the best experiences of my professional life.

On the session were : Paquito D’Rivera (alto), Bobby Porcelli (alto), Mario Rivera (tenor), Bob Franceschini (tenor), Pablo Calogero (bari), Diego Urcola (trumpet), Michael Mossman (trumpet) Raul Agraz (trumpet), Ray Vega (trumpet), John Walsh (trumpet), Juan Pablo Torres (trombone), Luis Bonilla (trombone), Papo Vasquez (trombone), Douglas Purviance (trombone), Edgardo Miranda (guitar), John Benitez (bass), Dafnis Prieto (drums), Milton Cardona (percussion), Joe Gonzalez (percussion), Rickard Valdez (percussion) and of course, Bebo Valdez (piano).