Jazz enthusiasts packed Grand Old House on 14 May to see six-time Grammy winner Chucho Valdes and his daughter Leyannes play together on Cayman’s shores for the first time.
Known as Cuba’s Duke Ellington; a dapper Chucho stepped onstage to thunderous applause from the crowd.
Quickly acknowledging the audience, Mr. Valdes then got right to work behind a grand piano with a stirring rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, in honour of the late Paul Aiken, who had worked at Grand Old House for 30 years.
‘I have been saying for years ‘come on Chucho you have to come’ and finally he is here,’ said Grand Old House Manager Martin Richter during a short break to thank the audience for attending and ensuring them that proceeds from the event would go to Cayman Hospice Care.
Taking the microphone from Mr. Richter, Mr. Valdes expressed his gratitude for being invited, with a strong Cuban accent. ‘I am very happy to be playing with my daughter for the first time in Cayman,’ he said before he began playing a blues selection.
His hands moved elegantly over the ebony and ivory keys – but with six Grammys and numerous other awards, who could expect any different?
Next up was a Latin-infused piece which garnered tremendous applause.
Soaking up the crowd’s praise, Mr. Valdes then introduced his daughter Leyannes, who has been playing at Grand Old House for almost two years.
Stepping out in a fitted black dress with hair swept back into a neat ponytail, she greeted her father and the crowd and began to play solo. Proving that the apple does not fall far from the tree, like her father she, too, wowed the crowd.
Mr. Valdes then joined his daughter onstage and together they made beautiful music.
During a short intermission, the winner of the raffle prize of Cayman Airways tickets for two was announced, as luck would have it, as Mr. Richter.
Mr. Valdes then came back on stage and began playing a Cuban song and got the crowd to participate by clapping.
Leyannes then returned and joined her father once again, and the chemistry between father and daughter maintained its high standard until the two finished their set.
Taking his daughter’s hand, Mr. Valdes gave it a quick kiss and thanked her for accompanying him on the piano, then turned to exit the stage. The crowd, however, hadn’t had enough and begged for an encore. Obligingly, Mr. Valdes returned and played a little more, and even serenaded Mr. Richter with a Happy Birthday rendition, for which the content manager replied: ‘A birthday like this is priceless.’
On the way out of the venue many guests stopped to tell both Chucho and Leyannes how much they enjoyed the show.
Mr. Valdes then mentioned a tad later: ‘I enjoyed it as much as they did.’