Chucho Valdes is a pianist who has made his mark in the worlds of Cuban music and jazz. He founded the Afro-Cuban Jazz band Irakere that became the vanguard for Latin fusion in the 1970s and which spawned the likes of Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. Like his father, Bebo Valdes (a legendary Cuban bandleader in the '50s), he shrouds the piano by virtue of his imposing stature. With his mastery of technique and lightning-like speed, he synthesizes deep elements of classical music, Afro-Cuban folklore, popular music and jazz. Known for his improvisatory skill, Valdes' live recordings are especially impressive. He has attained the status of a saint in Cuba for taking the nation's music to the rest of the world while remaining a mentor to young musicians back home.