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  • Born

    September 1966 (age 50)

There are at least two artists with this name:

1) An afro-cuban jazz band from Cuba.
2) An ethno-world music group from the Czech Republic.

1) Maraca is an afro-cuban jazz band from Cuba. The band is led by former Irakere flutist Orlando Valle ``Maraca``.
Orlando Valle, "Maraca", was born in September, 1966 in Havana within a family of musicians. When he was ten years old he began studying the flute at the "Manuel Saumell" Conservatory. His professional career began in 1987 with the orchestra of Bobby Carcassés. Later on, he joined the group led by the pianist and composer Emiliano Salvador, whose experience constituted a remarkable influence for Maraca. In 1988, Maraca joined the Irakere Group as flute player, composer and arranger with whom he performed at the most important jazz clubs and festivals across the world for six years.

In 1994, he parted from Irakere to start his career as soloist. He produced, orchestrated and composed the themes contained in the record entitled Cocodrilo de agua salá by Yumuri and His Brothers. Likewise, he composed the music for the "Pasaporte" record by the renowned Cuban percussionists Tata Guines and Angá. He conceived and arranged three of the themes included in the Cubanismo album by Jesús Alemañy and worked with the American saxophone player Steve Colleman and trumpet player Roy Hargrove. His first album as soloist was "Fórmula I".

In December 1995, he founded his own jazz group called "Maraca" y Otra Visión (the group"s name is a tribute to Emiliano Salvador, a true Cuban jazz legend) with which he participated at the most important jazz festivals held in Europe. Two years later, his group was the only Cuban group participating at the MIDEM in Cannes, France, representing the Cuban music. The first CD he recorded with his group, "Havana Calling", became a resounding hit on the market as was acknowledged by the specialized critic since it was placed among the ten best records in 1997 according to the "Latin Beat" Magazine. That same year, "Jazzman" from France, described him as one of the most important musical creators in the island, thus consolidating his vanguard position within the Latin jazz.

In 1999, he received the Cubadisco Award for the best fusion album with his CD entitled "Sonando" including guest stars like Compay Segundo, Barbarito Torres, Pío Leyva, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Rolo Martínez, Lino Borges and others. This record also received two Lucas Awards for the best video-clip of the year in Cuba.

The following years up to now have witnessed the meteoric development of "Maraca" and his group as musicians whose versatility has allowed them to travel from jazz to Cuban popular music, and vice versa, with a quality put to the proof. "Maraca" and his group have performed almost in every European country, in the United States, Canada and Martinique, among others, at the most outstanding jazz, salsa music and Caribbean music events. He has shared the stage with Celia Cruz, Oscar de León, "El Canario" and Cesaria Evora, just to mention a few.

His records entitled "Descarga total" and "Tremenda rumba" were placed in the American and European hit parades, since "Maraca" displays a new vision of the Latin music by merging tradition and modernity.

2) The Czech group consists of Gabriela Pliskova (vocals. violin, viola), Petr Filak (oud, guitars), Pimpa (Violoncello), Tomas Rohleder (drums, Percussion), Radek Bednarik (Sax, clarenet, pan flute)Robert Prokop (sampler, didgeridoo).

Czech group heavily influenced by arabic music. Multiple instruments. Artists include: Petr Filak, Gabriela Vermelho, Pimpa, Tomas Rohleder, Radek Bednarik, Jan Janik, Robert Prokop and Antonin Sturma.
Strong interest in Spanish and Portuguese cultures motivated the concept album Longe around the writings of the early 20th century Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Singer Gabriela Vermelho sure has the warmth, flexibility, and range to mimic traditional styles, but the rhythm section remains steeped in rock music, giving the grooves a feel heavier than expected. Then again, Longe is not meant to be genuine Portuguese folk. The backwards guitar introducing the opening track, “Dobre,” is as good a clue as any. Petr Filák’s oud adds a Sephardic color, but the piece is resolutely modern. Trumpeter Frantisek Slavík (of Iva Bittová’s Cikori band) contributes neocool touches in this and a few more pieces. Two songs are sung in English, the other ones are in Portuguese. Arrangements are carefully tailored to offer a balance of tradition (violin, trumpet) and innovation (in the bass work of Ales Obkrácil, particularly creative and unpredictable). Pessoa’s words, especially his darker, more intimate poems, find fresh resonances in these elegant songs. Highlights include the delicate “Sonhos,” the very East European “I Know,” and the teasing bossanova “Nuvens.” This is world fusion of a different kind, relying on very adult alternative pop atmospheres instead of the usual hyped-up Latin dance rhythms. Try it, if only for Vermelho’s highly seductive voice.

François Couture, All Music Guide

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