This dynamic and prolific artist has recorded five cds as a bandleader. Valera’s critically acclaimed debut cd Forma Nueva featuring John Patitucci, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Bill Stewart and Seamus Blake—which received nationwide radio airplay and garnered strong reviews in the jazz and music press Billboard, Jazztimes, Jazziz, All Music Guide and Latin Beat among others. Historia, a jazz quartet recording for Fresh Sounds New Talent followed in 2005. In 2006, Melancolía—which employed a string quartet incorporating world rhythms and classical concepts in the jazz idiom—opened up new vistas of compositional colors and textures across the full range of Valera’s sources. In 2007, Vientos represented a new working quartet, featuring bassist James Genus, drummer Ernesto Simpson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and a woodwind quartet. His fifth major recording and most recent trio work, Currents, was released on MaxJazz in 2009, featuring Ernesto Simpson and James Genus. Manuel will be going into the studio to record music for The New Cuban Express this fall.
Valera has played with Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch & Spheres of Influence, Dafnis Prieto Quintet, John Benitez Group, Donny McCaslin, Claudio Roditi, Chris Potter, Giovanni Hildago, Eddie Gomez and Yosvany Terry among many others.
Manuel's most recent recognition for Vientos is the Jazziz Critics' Choice for "The Best of 2007" and the "2007 Jazz Twirlies," a celebration award given to those most worthy in modern jazz. He is a recipient of the 2006 Chamber Music America's New Works Commission, the 2005 ASCAP Young Composers Award and a final nominee of the 2005 Jazz Journalist Association's awards in the Up & Coming Musician of the Year category.