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The hands of Afro-Cuban pianist Jesus “Chucho” Valdes resemble a broken-in baseball glove—perhaps that of a young Fidel Castro—or a Picasso portrait with small loaves of French bread in place of fingers. Best-known for his work as the leader of the Grammy-winning Irakere, (which included jazz greats Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera before they defected), tonight Valdes performs solo. The son of Cuban jazz master Bebo Valdes, he grew up surrounded by jazz greats, while receiving classical training at the best conservatories. Valdes is as reputed for his mind-blowing runs as for his subtle, understated melodic interpretations. At one time it was easier to get a Cuban cigar than it was to catch him live—1995 marked the end of a 16-year absence. Hopefully, with Valdes featured on the new Roy Hargrove CD Habana, these extended waits will be no more. Music’s “universal language” acquires several dialects when Valdes tickles the keys. Sit in on this musical language lesson at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. $23. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Holly Bass)