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Born and raised in Havana, Grammy nominated, Guggenheim Fellow, pianist and composer Manuel Valera since arriving in NYC h as 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, Yosvany Terry and classical violin virtuoso Joshua Bell among many others. In 2020 Valera joined Steve Smith’s legendary music group Vital Information.


This dynamic and prolific artist has recorded 18 cds as a bandleader with touring projects ranging from his Grammy nominated group New Cuban Express to his modern contemporary trio, solo piano and the New Cuban Express Big Band. 


Valera is the recipient of many composition grants — most notably a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, 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 Nominated Artist, New Cuban Express, 2012

Guggenheim Fellowship 2019
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, Centenario

ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, 2005
Commissioned by Joshua Bell and Orchestra for PBS Commission for 

Commissioned by Yosvany Terry Bohemian Trio, Impressionistic Romance and             Impromptu

Commission by Paquito D’Rivera with Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band and his Sextet


Publicity Photos

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