Yelfris Valdes

23 June 2021

Yelfris Valdés is a Cuban artist, composer and trumpet player. He began studying classical music at the age of 8 and began touring the world as a professional musician at the age of 16.

At 25 he graduated with the highest honours from The College of Arts in Havana. During this time he recorded, performed and toured with some of Cuba’s most musicians including: The legendary Grammy Award Winning Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo, Barbarito Torres, Guajiro Mirabal, Amadito Valdes, Roberto Fonseca and X Alfonso. At the age of 20, he joined one of, if not the longest running bands performing the Cuban son style, Sierra Maestra.

In the 10 years he spent with the band he mastered the art of Cuban improvisation, arranging and complex rhythms from the island, whilst touring their music in more than 50 countries. In 2010, they were nominated at the Grammy Awards for Best Tropical Album, which included several of Yelfris’ compositions.

In 2014 he moved to London and positioned himself very quickly as one of the most in demand trumpet players in the capital’s music scene since. Due to his versatility and improvisation abilities he has been requested to play with big international stars from the likes of Madonna, The Clash and Michael Kiwanuka to multi-Grammy award winning pianist Chucho Valdés and the last edition of African Express with Damon Albarn, Rokia Traoré amongst others. His time in London has seen him collaborate with some of the finest UK musicians from Mobo award winning drummer Moses Boyd and pioneering grime MC Kano to highly lauded producer Quantic, he also recorded on the Yussef Kamaal project with Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Records which went on to become the best-selling jazz album in the UK for generations shining an international light on this new wave of UK jazz musicians.

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