Latin music is still a momentous force in 2009. Its energizedrhythms have penetrated into virtually every layer of contemporarymusic from hip-hop to jazz and world music. Hundreds of musicianshave carried the torch first lit by the likes of Chano Pozo, MarioBauza, Machito (who introduced New York to Latin jazz in the 1940s)and later, Tito Puente. Pianist/composer/arranger Chucho Valdés(1941) has always maintained ties with his homeland Cuba. Valdésalready had a jazz trio when he was only fifteen, and afterwards heworked as a pianist in the famous Marti's Theater in Havana. Later,he was the initiator of the sensational line-up Irakere, the firstLatin jazz band ever to win a Grammy Award. In 1998, Valdés took adifferent direction with a quartet in which he demonstrated histalents as a pianist. Now he is back with a big band, following inthe footsteps of his legendary predecessors, carrying the torch oftrue Latin jazz.