Photography by Jimmy Katz
Based in New York City, Grammy nominated pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Lenny White, John Benitez, Samuel Torres and Joel Frahm among many others.
This dynamic and prolific artist has recorded six cds as a bandleader. His critically acclaimed debut cd in 2004 Forma Nueva (MAVO) features John Patitucci, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake. Historia (Fresh Sounds New Talent, 2005), a jazz quartet with Antonio Sanchez, Seamus Blake and Ben Street. His third release Melancolia (MAVO,2006)—employs a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom. Vientos (Anzic, 2007),representing a new working quartet, features bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth and trio recording Currents (MaxJazz 2009) features Ernesto Simpson and James Genus.
In addition, he has been awarded several grants for composition most notably Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Manuel has travelled the world performing in over 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals.