Legendary pianist Bebo Valdés died in Sweden this past Friday at the age of 94. A giant of Cuban music, he worked with everyone from Beny Moré to Nat “King” Cole. More recently, he scored the music for the Oscar-nominated film Chico and Rita (Ferdinand Trueba and Javier Mariscal, 2010). According to an obituary in the Miami Herald, Valdés was asked how he found the energy to keep performing at his age. “What else would I do?” he answered. “Watch TV? No, I’d rather play the piano. I will play until I die.”
Here are three videos that showcase Valdés, the depth of his musicianship, and his ease and fluency as a performer.
Bebo performing "La Comparsa" with his son, Chucho Valdés, from the film Calle 54 (2000) by Fernando Trueba:
Bebo performing “Lágrimas Negras” with Israel “Cachao” López, also from Calle 54:
Bebo performing “La Bella Cubana” (music only) from the animated film Chico and Rita (2010):