“The earrings that the moon lacks I have kept to make you a necklace”.
Vicente Valdés was born in the neighborhood of Cayo Hueso, Havana, on January 10, 1921. He was the younger brother of Alfredito Valdés (1908-1988), a versatile singer who performed with numerous sones groups, ensembles and orchestras in Cuba until, around 1940, he settled outside Cuba, mainly in New York and Mexico, where he continued his artistic career.
Two of Vicente’s other brothers, Marcelino and Oscar, stood out as percussionists, and the latter also as a singer in the Irakere group.
Also known as “La voz elástica” Vicentico is one of the most celebrated interpreters of the bolero with a great interpretative strength and dramatization in his performance for the benefit of couples in love who enjoy his songs to this day.
Valdés was part of “El Septeto Nacional”, the orchestra of Cheo Belén Puig, “La Cosmopolita”, the orchestras of Noro Morales, Arturo Núñez and Tito Puente,
In 1937, recommended by Alfredo, Vicentico sang for a short time with the Segundo Septeto Nacional, a group that had been founded to share the multiple artistic commitments that the renowned Septeto Nacional of Ignacio Piñeiro received at that time. He was also a member of the sones sextet Jabón Candado.
Later, he replaced Alfredo as a singer in the orchestra of Cheo Belén Puig, one of the most famous Cuban groups of the charanga format. Later, he joined the jazz band Cosmopolita, led by Vicente Viana and later by pianist and composer Humberto Suárez.
Together with Marcelino Guerra Rapindey and Cristóbal Dobal, among others, he was part of the sextet Los Leones.
In the mid-1940s, due to the difficult economic situation in Cuba after World War II, Vicentico, like many other Cuban artists of the time, went to Mexico to explore new horizons for his work in music.
In the Mexican capital he performed with Humberto Cané’s conjunto Tropical, and the orchestras of Arturo Núñez, Rafael de Paz and Chucho Rodríguez, with whom he later recorded with Benny Moré. In those years he received his first ovations on the stage of the Follies.
In Mexico, between 1946 and 1947, he made recordings for the Peerless label, backed by the orchestras of the Mexican Rafael de Paz and the Cuban Absalón Pérez.
The repertoire chosen for these records consisted almost entirely of guarachas, afros and sones montunos, which had been popularized in Cuba by Orlando Guerra Cascarita with the Orquesta Casino de la Playa.
Vicentico was hired as a singer of the musical group of the Puerto Rican pianist Noro Morales in New York at the end of 1947. In that city he had a successful season at the Hispanic Theater which, according to the chronicles of the time, “consecrated him in the taste of the Latin community”. He also performed at the Million Dollars, Park Plaza and Puerto Rico theaters.
In 1948 he joined Tito Puente’s orchestra as a singer, along with his brother Alfredo. With Puente he recorded his first boleros (among them “Quiéreme y verás”, by José Antonio Méndez) for the Seeco label. Until then he had been used mainly as an interpreter of upbeat numbers. With Tito Puente he made numerous recordings throughout his career.
In 1953, the Seeco record company promoted a group of recordings with the Sonora Matancera, which had great repercussion in Cuba, where he was hardly known, and in other Caribbean countries.
Among the pieces recorded in Havana in November of that year were two boleros (“Una aventura”, by Elisa Chiquitica Méndez and “Decídete mi amor”, by José Antonio Méndez), a genre in which he achieved the greatest triumphs of his career.
From then on, in New York, with great studio orchestras conducted by René Hernández, Joe Cain, and later Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, he made new recordings that were quickly distributed throughout Latin America.
Their repertoire during this stage (early 1960s) included boleros and songs by authors of different tendencies and styles; the Cubans René Touzet, Javier Vázquez, José Antonio Méndez, Piloto y Vera, Pepé Delgado, Juan Pablo Miranda, Marta Valdés and the Rigual brothers; the Puerto Ricans Silvia Rexach, Myrta Silva and Rafael Hernández; the Dominicans Rafael Solano and Manuel Troncoso; and the Mexicans Manuel Prado, Luis Demetrio and Armando Manzanero.
La Sonora Matancera among others no less important. He also excelled in other genres such as Mambo, Guaguancó, Son and Guaracha.
He was an exceptional singer with a particular style that set the standard and also spread the best Latin American bolero composers, particularly those of the Cuban Feeling, of which he was a valuable promoter at an international level. His career as a soloist was impeccable.
He died in a New York hospital on the morning of June 26, 1995, according to a heart attack.
Source: En Caribe
Read also: La Sonora Matancera musical congregation of long trajectory and its sound quality, is one of the most popular in the Caribbean island “Cuba”
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