Biography

Maraca’s Reencuentros seamlessly blends Latin Jazz, chamber music and Cuban roots

"The most influential Afro-Cuban band of the emerging century." -- Howard REICH (THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
“Ever since Maraca’s 2006 debut, he’s been stretching beyond traditional Cuban music into Latin Jazz, paying homage to his elders, but always with an eye to the future…It takes something like Live at the Grand Theatre to make you prick up your ears and renew your faith in the music” – Nat Chediak

 

This genius of the Cuban flute has participated as guest artist in the winning album of the Latin Grammy Award 2018 of the "Septeto Santiaguero y El Canario" and has played and directed a band recently in the "Global Concert" for the "International Jazz Day" performed in the Gran Teatro "Alicia Alonso" in Havana. He has also been the winner, along with his pianist cousin Ramon Valle, of the 2018 Cubadisco Award.
Born in Havana in a family of musicians, Orlando “Maraca” Valle started playing the flute at ten and studied at the Higher Institute of Art of Havana. By 1988 was asked to join Cuba’s famous Irakere (founded by Chucho Valdés) where he served as flutist, keyboardist, and arranger. With six years of international fame with Irakere under his belt, Maraca launched his solo career in 1994 with Pasaporte, which featured collaborations with noted Cuban percussionists Tata Güines and Miguel “Angá” Díaz.  He has since earned a national reputation not only as a master flutist but also as a writer and arranger.  His current album represents, perhaps, his most adventurous foray as a composer and shows one of the world’s most important Latin Jazz composers at the top of his game.
Maraca’s skills are hard-wont through years of touring and collaborations with the world’s best.  After decades building an international name for himself in prestigious Cuban and Latin ensembles, his Grammy-nominated 2003 solo release Tremenda Rumba  reached Top 15 on Billboard’s Tropical album chart in the U.S. meanwhile his masterpiece album Descarga Total! is one of Cuba’s best-selling album ever.  He’s performed in 41 countries including festivals (Aspen, Montreux, Montreal, Vancouver, Istanbul, North Sea, Paris, Nice, Marciac, Lugano, Antibes-Juan-les-Pins, Vitoria) and top international venues like the Hollywood Bowl of Los Angeles, the Kennedy Center in Washington , the House of Music in Moscow, and the Athens’ Opera House; he appears regularly at top jazz spots like Yoshi’s and Jazz Alley.  Maraca has been awarded “best recording in Cuba” both in 2006 and in 2009 by CUBADISCO’s national contest, and his Pasaporte release won ‘Album of the Year’ by EGREM (Cuba’s oldest record label and competition).
Meanwhile, Maraca has lent his arranging and composing skills to the likes of Cesaria Evora, Leonid Agutin, Cubanismo, the Afro-Cuban all –stars, Orlando Poleo, Nora, Amadito Valdès, Yumuri and Monique Seka.
Maraca has just finished to record two new albums: a latin jazz one (Todo o Nada ) and a Cuban dancing music one (Suspendan los comentarios) which songs are beginning to be in the public's preference.
Maraca keeps on collaborating with some of the world’s best musicians sharing the stage as special guest of pop Russian star Leonid Agutin, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and guitarist Al di Meola. With the latter, he recently performed at the Jazz à Vienne Festival in France, where famed Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba also participated.
About Reencuentros: Forging Cuba’s rich musical traditions into genre- and class-bending jazz and chamber hybrids might appear at first to be impossible- if not altogether foolhardy.  Cuba’s musical mystique - long-sanctified rhythms, ensemble playing honed over decades, musical laws known only to seasoned initiates – doesn’t seem to embrace such flexibility.  Yet from Cuba’s musical wells, Orlando “Maraca” Valle - Cuba’s most influential and groundbreaking flutist and a mainstay of international Salsa and Latin Jazz circles – all but reinvents the wheel with his genre-smashing Reencuentros: Live at the Grand Theatre of Havana.  As a live audiovisual recording of this historical performance last year, the album is literally something your ears have never heard before.  It takes Cuba’s roots to new levels of expression through the artful abandon of musical masters.  With all-star Latin musicians (Giovanni Hidalgo/percussion, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez/Drums, David Sanchez/Sax, Harold López-Nussa/Piano, and more) and gorgeous supporting chamber arrangements, it’s no surprise Downbeat called Reencuentros a “masterpiece,” giving it 5 stars and listing it among the best of 2011. 
The double DVD/CD album captures the excitement of this mesmerizing show and plays like an invocation into new realms of musical consciousness.  The show, held at The Grand Theatre of Havana, burned through its first 1,500 tickets in 2 hours, selling out soon after.  It was the first time such huge names from the Latin jazz world had combined with Cuban heavyweights and chamber virtuosos in Cuba.  But it is the deft compositional skills of Orlando “Maraca” Valle, whose “skills as a composer and arranger keep the music constantly shifting in surprising directions” (Downbeat) that raise these influences to a cinematic apex.