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Manuel Valera / John Ellis Duo

Piedmont Piano Company is pleased to present


Manuel Valera / John Ellis Duo

Pianist Manuel Valera & saxophonist/clarinetist John Ellis, two versatile composers, come together to traverse and interact through music. They present their own compositions with this chamber music format in mind, as well as new refreshing arrangements on material from the great American songbook.

$20 General Admission

Based in New York City, 2013 Grammy nominated artist, 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, 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, Jeff “Tain” Watts, , John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry among many others.  Manuel is also the leader of the New Cuban Express.  His 6th record as a leader New Cuban Express was released in June/2012 and is nominated for the 2013 Grammys in the Best Latin Jazz Album category.

His ensemble New Cuban Express features some of the most in demand players in the NYC scene today.  Yosvany Terry on saxophone, Tom Guarna on guitar, John Benitez on bass, Ludwig Afonso on drums and Mauricio Herrera on Percussion.  This group explores and fuses the music of Cuba with Jazz.  All the members of the band are well versed in Latin and Jazz vocabulary allowing the group to have a sound can be authentic in both genres.

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 in 2006 and 2013, Dranoff 2 Piano Barcardi Choice commission 2015 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.

The gifted, versatile saxophonist/clarinetist/composer John Ellis occupies an imaginary (and extremely imaginative) space directly between the celebratory, welcoming spirit of New Orleans and the edgy, frantic streets of New York City. Both as the leader of his own eclectic projects and as an in-demand sideman for a mind-boggling number and variety of artists, Ellis expresses keen intellect, easy virtuosity, and mischievous spirit.

Ellis’ own projects include his eccentric urban carnival band Double-Wide, his quintet of A-list players, and a series of Jazz Gallery-commissioned narrative pieces with playwright Andy Bragen. The second-place winner of the 2002 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, the North Carolina native has established himself as one of New York’s premier tenor saxophonists, working with artists as diverse as John Patitucci, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Charlie Hunter, and Sting. Ellis has released nine albums as a leader, while his discography lists more than 150 album credits as a sideman.

Earlier Event: July 6
JCJF: The John Santos Quartet
Later Event: July 12
Tammi Brown