Projects as a leader

New Cuban Express

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express is a project deeply influenced by the experiments of Cuban artists from the 70s and 80s. While inspired by artists Irakere, Emiliano Salvador and AfroCuba, this working band creates a unique and distinctive style that mixes elements of Jazz, R&B, fusion and
funk with Cuban music styles.


NCX includes saxophonist Yosvany Terry, guitarist Tom Guarna, bassist Hans Glawishnig, drummer Ludwig Afonso, percussionist Mauricio Herrera and occassionally special guest singer Sofia Rei.


New Cuban Express +Sofia Rei / José Martí en Nueva York Commission

A commissioned and touring work made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2013 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Martí en Nueva York consists of musical adaptations of Cuban poet, patriot and apostle of Cuban Independence José Martís Versos Sencillos. This poetry, some of Martí’s last work, was written while Martí lived in New York at the end of the 19th Century.



Manuel Valera Trio

The music is a refreshing take on Cuban music as well as interpretations of jazz standards and previously-recorded original compositions by Valera. The trio fuses elements of straight-ahead, Latin Jazz and R&B to create a very personal sound with a broad appeal.


The trio includes bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer EJ Strickland.



Solo Piano

A more introspective
and his first-ever solo outing, the aptly-titled Self-Portrait reflects the Havana-born musician’s classical background along with his love of jazz and the Cuban boleros that he grew up with. And while he readily admits that the prospect of recording without the support of a burning rhythm section and killer soloists was
somewhat daunting, the results are sublime and enchanting.

Groove Square

Cuban-influenced project with a strong focus on groove-oriented, funk and electronic music.


Featuring saxophonist John Ellis Guitarist Nir Felder, Bassist John Benitez and drummer EJ Strickalnd.  


Other members include:

Troy Roberts or Mark Shim on Saxophone, Hans Glawischnig on bass and Donald Edwards or Ludwig Afonso on drums