A pianist for connoisseurs. Not only would the many fans of pianist-composer-arranger Chucho Valdés (1941) agree, but apparently also saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who features on Border-Free (2013), Valdés’ latest album. In 1973, the pianist founded the group Irakere, the first Latin jazz band to win a Grammy Award. In 1998, Valdés took a new direction with a quartet and in 2009 he performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival with a small big band. In 2012 he shuffled things up again: his group The Afro-Cuban Messengers became a sextet. The group’s repertoire has become broader with traces of flamenco, Arab music, Rachmaninoff and the music of Afro-Comanches. But Chucho Valdés has always been closely bound to his native Cuba and his show is also a feast of undiluted Latin jazz.