The Jazz Batá project is both a reflection on the past and a leap into the future for Chucho Valdés. In 1972, when the Cuban jazz pianist and band leader formed Irakere (a band with African percussion instead of a standard drum kit) the initial result was mainly raised eyebrows, particularly in his own country. The tide turned when Dizzy Gillespie discovered the band in Havana during a jazz cruise in 1977. On his recommendation, a record company executive went to Cuba to hear Irakere live and immediately offered the group a contract. A year later the band won a Grammy for Best Latin Recording, the first of six Grammys for Valdés. In 1997, Irakere played at the North Sea Jazz Festival but the band broke up in 2005. Valdés is now back with Jazz Batá which sees him return to his drumless formula. There is also a new album with new compositions: Jazz Batá No. 2.