Decoding Afro-Cuban Jazz:

The Music of Chucho Valdés & Irakere

by Chucho Valdés & Rebeca Mauleón

The definitive guide to Latin jazz
by two masters of the genre!

Decoding Afro-Cuban Jazz is, at the same time:

  1. A songbook of the best compositions of the ground-breaking Cuban ‘fusion’ group Irakere,
  2. A thorough guide to the roots and structure of Afro-Cuban jazz in general
  3. An overview of Maestro Valdés’ influences and contributions to the music

A unique treasure for all lovers of Latin music!

Included in this book are:

  • Eleven of Valdés’ most important works, decoded and transcribed
  • Overview of the history of Afro-Cuban music
  • Biographies on Valdés and ground-breaking supergroup Irakere
  • Detailed transcriptions and musical guides
  • Breakdown of Afro-Cuban folkloric and popular rhythms
  • Explanation of the Cuban clave and its function
  • Comprehensive discography and glossary
  • Dozens of exercises and tools for enhanced study
  • Annotated list of compositional works by Maestro Valdés
  • Spiral-bound, 211 pages of music and text!

Referenced Audio Recordings


I finally got a chance to play with Chucho in Cuba and I’ve always considered that one of the greatest moments of my career. He is a giant walking the earth.”
— Christian McBride, bassist, bandleader and composer

Wow! What a read. Part historical, part technical and completely soulful. It has a permanent place on my bookshelf.”
— Tim Jackson, Artistic Director, Monterey Jazz Festival

Beautifully synthesizes Chucho's life, career and music, helping us to understand and celebrate the cultural and historical significance of his contribution, while giving us some lessons in Afro-Cuban music.”
— Simon Rowe, Executive Director, RJAM program, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Cuban pianist, composer, and arranger Chucho Valdés is the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. In a career spanning more than 60 years, both as a solo artist and bandleader, Mr. Valdés has distilled elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music, rock, and more, into a deeply personal style. Winner of seven GRAMMY® and five Latin GRAMMY® Awards, Mr. Valdés, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Science last year and was also inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.