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Kiki Valera “Vacilon Santiaguero”

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VACILÓN SANTIAGUERO is Kiki Valera’s second US solo release after many distinguished years as director of La Familia Valera Miranda in Santiago de Cuba, a century-old group and one of the most important purveyors of the Son Cubano.

It reaches beyond his core performing group to present collaborations with some GRAMMY® award winning musicians and to feature his favorite trumpeters including Alexis Baró, Brian Lynch, Michael Rodriguez, Dennis Hernandez, Jonathan Powell, Pete Nater, Leon Q Allen and Thomas Marriott.
Kiki Valera, universally considered a master of the instru ment by those who are familiar with his work, attended the Conservatorio Esteban Salas in Santiago de Cuba to study classical guitar. During his time as a student, he discovered his chosen instru ment, the cuatro, while watching a street mu sician
playing one. He was so enamored of its sound and the extra possibilities offered by the fourth pair of strings (the tres has three pairs) that he built his own instrument and developed his own technique of playing, tuning and fin gering. Although the conservatory did not teach jazz, Kiki passionately listened to jazz cassettes by several artists including Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery and Chick Corea. Although he continues to faithfully defend Cuba’s traditional music, his jazz exposure elevates the quality of his cuatro solos in subtle and beautiful ways.

On VACILÓN SANTIAGUERO, Kiki is joined by world renowned singers including Carlos Cascante (of Spanish Harlem Orchestra fame) and childhood friend Coco Freeman (NG La Banda, Adalberto Alvarez y su Son) for a set of beloved and lively traditional pieces. Among the highlights are “Este Vacilón” and “El Ají de Cocina” (two original songs composed by Kiki’s father Felix Valera), Alexis Baró’s high-note trumpet solo on “Sobre Una Tumba Una Rumba,” Arsenio Rodriguez’s “Funfuñando” (the coro’s riffing sounds a bit like a big band), a hyper and joyful “Mari-Juana,” the vintage “Pájaro Lindo,” Coco Freeman’s soulful singing on “Dos Gardenias,” and “El Cuarto De Tula” which has become a Buena Vista Social Club classic. Valera arranged these songs in a colorful and inventive fashion and in his jazz-influenced hands, you will occasionally hear twists and turns in the solo work that you probably weren’t expecting when you first glanced over the song titles, which are mostly Cuban evergreens.
There is much to enjoy on each of these dazzling performances and VACILÓN SANTIAGUERO features Kiki Valera at his most creative. The music that he arranged and performs is irresistible, for dancers and listeners alike.


  1. Este Vacilón 05:20
  2. El Ají de Cocina 05:07
  3. Sobre una Tumba una Rumba 07:04
  4. El Penquito e’ Coleto 04:11
  5. Funfuñando 05:31
  6. La Guajira 05:46
  7. Mari-Juana 03:54
  8. Muñequita Feliz 06:30
  9. El Empanadillero 04:35
  10. Pájaro Lindo 06:23
  11. Dos Gardenias 02:56
  12. El Cuarto de Tula 05:34

All music arranged by Kiki Valera

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