Biography of Irakere

Irakere, is a Cuban group that developed an important work in Cuban popular music and Latin Jazz under the direction of Chucho Valdés.


Irakere was formed in 1967 but had already started working much earlier; in that year they go to a selection convened in Havana to organize with the best musicians of that time the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music; already in 1972 they were approaching what they currently produce, deciding in 1973 to call him Irakere, which in the Yoruba language means Vegetación, and that is how, based on their name, they work based on Afro-Cuban musical roots.

Biography of Irakere

Irakere means vegetation in Yoruba language”

In this way, through the combination, mixture and interrelation of the classical, impressionism, jazz, rock and various composition techniques manage to walk through all styles such as dance music, concert music, traditional music and music current Cuban.

Chucho Valdés
Chucho Valdés, pianist and director of Irakere

Thanks to the impulse of the pianist Chucho Valdés, the Cuban group Irakere took off in 1973, nourished by the bop of Thelonious Monk.

On the foundation of Irakere, Chucho Valdés said: “For us the Group always existed, it was present at all times, it was like something pending, at the beginning it did not have a name, it was just an idea in which we worked: to use Cuban folk percussion in dance music, and look for different timbres and with a common characteristic: “our.” Then Oscar Valdés came up with the combination of the not easy and little-known batá drum with tumbadora, güiro and cowbell and so, step by step we came to the current group… ”

On this first stage of Irakere, says Leonardo Acosta: “one of the successes of Irakere had been not to try to invent and identify with a” new rhythm “, according to the old patterns of advertising claim so used since the forties until the sixties The slogan about the “new rhythm” was until recently the “open sesame” with which the musicians counted to become famous overnight, and that was the way to achieve quite commercial results. no “new rhythm” is so new, they all come from the alteration or amalgam of pre-existing rhythms.

Maybe at a private level the members of the future group “Irakere” were considered part of the group since 1967, but in Cuba we did not hear about Irakere until the mid-1970s, 1974 to be more exact. The general opinion is that Irakere is formed mainly due to the decision of the political direction of the National Council of Culture to eliminate the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music for political reasons. Obviously, recruiting a selection of stellar musicians such as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdes, etc. it was to be expected that the result was a quality grouping.