Based in New York City, Grammy nominated artist, pianist and composer Manuel Valera was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. Since arriving in NYC, he has become well known in the NYC modern jazz scene, garnering national reviews and lending his talents as a pianist and composer to such notable artist as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Jeff "Tain" Watts, John Benitez, Samuel Torres, Joel Frahm, Yosvany Terry among many others.
Valera is also the leader of his working band Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express, 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 touring band creates a unique and distinctive style that mixes elements of Jazz, R&B, fusion and funk with Cuban music styles. Expectativas (MAVO 2013) is the follow up and seventh recording as a leader to his 2013 Grammy nominated New Cuban Express (MAVO 2012) which was up for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year.
His critically acclaimed debut cd in 2004 Forma Nueva (MAVO) features John Patitucci, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake. Historia (Fresh Sounds New Talent 2005), a jazz quartet with Antonio Sanchez, Seamus Blake and Ben Street. His third release Melancolia (MAVO 2006)-employs a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom. Vientos (Anzic 2007), representing a new working quartet, features bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth and trio recording Currents (MaxJazz 2009) features Ernesto Simpson and James Genus.
In addition, he has been awarded several grants for composition most notably Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Manuel has travelled the world performing in over 30 countries at some of the biggest international venues and festivals.