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Manuel Valera

Grammy Winning Artist   |   Pianist   |   Composter  |   Educator


Manuel Saumell Conservatory in Havana, Cuba

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 1998-2000

The New School, New York, NY 2000-2003


Bandleader Bio

Born and raised in Havana, Grammy nominated pianist and composer Manuel Valera since arriving in NYC has become well known in the modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artists as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry and classical violin virtuoso Joshua Bell among many others.


This dynamic and prolific artist has recorded 13 cds as a bandleader with touring projects ranging from his Grammy nominated group New Cuban Express to his modern contemporary trio to solo piano.


Valera is the recipient of many composition grants — most notably Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works three different times, the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation 2 times and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. He has travelled the world performing in more than 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals in the world.


Selected Grants, Commissions & Awards

Grammy Winning Musician, Dafnis Prietro Big Band, Back to the Sunset, 2018

Grammy Nominated Artist, New Cuban Express, 2012

Chamber Music America New Jazz Works 2005, Impressions of Expressions

Chamber Music America New Jazz Works 2014, José Marti en Nueva York

Chamber Music America New Jazz Works 2017, The Planets

Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation 2016 Bacardi Commission, Migrant Voyage Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation 2018 Commission, Nine Stories for 2 pianos ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, 2005

Arrangements of Ernesto Lecuona and Gonzalo Roig for Joshua Bell and Orchestra for PBS Commission for Yosvany Terry Bohemian Trio, Impressionistic Romance and Impromptu Commission for Paquito D’Rivera with Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band


Selected Teaching Experience/Masterclasses

New School for Social Research, New York, NY

New York University, New York, NY

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH

JazzUV in Xalapa, Mexico

Tonica Jazz in Guadalajara, Mexico

Escuela Fernando Sor in Bogota, Colombia

American Music School in Paris, France

Accademia Musica Moderna, Modena, Italy

Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, Mexico City, Mexico

Stanford Jazz Workshop in Palo Alto, CA


Recordings as a Leader

Manuel Valera, Forma Nueva, 2004

Manuel Valera, Historia, 2005

Manuel Valera, Melancolia, 2006

Manuel Valera, Vientos, 2007

Manuel Valera, Currents, 2009

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express, 2012

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express, Expectativas, 2013

Manuel Valera, Self Portrait, 2014

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express, In Motion, 2014

Manuel Valera Trio, Live at Firehouse 12, 2015

Manuel Valera & Groove Square, Urban Landscape, 2015

Manuel Valera Trio, The Seasons, 2017

Manuel Valera Trio, The Planets, 2017



Selected Work as Sideman - Tours/Recordings

Dafnis Prieto Si o Si, Sextet and Big Band

Jeff “Tain” Watts Quartet

Joel Frahm Quartet

Essiet Essiet Trio featuring Jeff Tain Watts

Yosvany Terry (multiple groups)

Clarence Penn and Penn Station

John Benitez Group

Lenny White Quartet

Carlos Henriquez (multiple groups)

Arturo Sandoval Sextet

Paquito D’Rivera Duo and Group

Brian Lynch Spheres of Influence

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Samuel Torres Group

Download Full CVS
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