An unusual animated film with a great story and musical backdrop is coming to the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles in March, running March 9th-15th.   It is a love story set in 1940s Cuba and New York during the heyday of the mambo.  The story is loosely based on Bebo Valdes,  patriarch of a great family of Cuban pianists (Chucho is the son, Chuchito the grandson);  Bebo was the pianist and music director of Havana’s most famous mambo club, the Tropicana.  The film charts the trajectory of both the smitten lovers as well as the pianist’s move to New York City to work with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parket to create a new music called “Cubop” (bebop+cuban=cubop).  The love story continues in Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Paris.    The film is sexy (nudity in intimate scenes), has great animation, and makes you laugh and cry with sadness and joy.   It was produced by Fernando Trueba, who did a great film documentary called Calle 54 about latin music.

It’s a very unusual and heartwarming film.  And the music will make you want to dance salsa,  explore mambo, or just take dance lessons.  Highly recommended!!!

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  • YOUTUBE: ANIMATED FILM (Cuba): Chico & Rita – Official Trailer [HD]
    This charming animated feature was loosely inspired by the life of 92-year-old Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés and unfolds in beautiful evocations of Forties Cuba, post-War New York, Paris and Las Vegas.


    Bebo Valdés (born Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro in Quivicán, 9 October 1918) is a Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He was a central figure in the golden age of Cuban music, led two famous big bands, and was one of the 'house' arrangers for the Tropicana Club.[1]

    Valdés started his career as a pianist in the night clubs of Havana during the 1940s. From 1948 to 1957 he worked as pianist and arranger for the vedette Rita Montaner, who was the lead act in the Tropicana cabaret. His orchestra Sabor de Cuba, and that of Armando Valdés, alternated at the Tropicana backing singers such as Benny More and Pío Leyva. Valdés played a role in the development of the mambo during the 1950s, and developed a new rhythm to compete with Perez Prado's mambo, called the batanga. Valdés was also an important figure in Cuban jazz and taking part in the Panart Cuban jazz sessions (one was commissioned by American producer Norman Granz). In the late 1950s he recorded with Nat 'King' Cole.

    In 1960, with his singer Rolando La Serie, Bebo left Cuba for Mexico. He then lived briefly in the United States before touring Europe, and eventually settled in Stockholm, where he lived until 2007. In Sweden he was instrumental in spreading the techniques of Cuban music and latin jazz.