“Harvey Valdes is a fantastic guitarist – musical to the nth degree and with chops to spare, as anyone knows who has heard his astonishing contrapuntal virtuosity.” — Andy Summers, The Police
A guitarist of searching, sophisticated musicality, Harvey Valdes, is renowned for his unique musical voice which spans a range of idioms and styles. His versatility has enabled him to work in refreshingly diverse situations, from award winning Broadway musicals, Baroque Opera, Middle Eastern music, film scores, and the music of Bach. He records many of his own works, and continues to develop a distinctive compositional and improvisational voice. Harvey has an intrepid curiosity about the electric guitar’s sonic and expressive range. In addition, he also plays the Arabic oud, cümbüs, banjo, mandolin, and classical guitar.
Harvey’s work in NYC theater includes Broadway, Off-Broadway, and downtown theater. He is recognized as the first oud player to be featured on Broadway in the onstage band for the hit, The Band’s Visit. The musical received 10 Tony awards, a 2019 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and an Emmy. He has also performed in the Broadway pit bands of Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Come From Away, Tootsie, and Shucked. On the Off-Broadway stage, he has worked with Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, and at The Public Theater, in addition to his stint with world renowned experimental theater company, The Wooster Group, for their production of Cavalli’s 1640 Baroque opera, La Didone.
To date, he has released five albums as a soloist/leader: Concurrents, a collection of spontaneous compositions for guitar and upright bass; Novare: J.S. Bach Lute Works on Electric Guitar (Destiny Records 2022) an electric guitar interpretation of Bach's Lute Suites; Solitude Intones Its Echo (Destiny, 2019) a set of poetically concise, engaging solo improvisations; PointCounterPoint (2016), a bristling, Mahavishnu-meets-math-rock trio album with violinist Sana Nagano and drummer Joe Hertenstein; and Roundabout (2015), his solo debut featuring lyrically inventive takes on jazz standards. As a composer-improviser for film, Harvey contributed a score for The Utopians, which premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, where his music was praised for constituting “one of the longest-lasting guitar improvisations since [Neil Young’s score for] Dead Man.” Harvey’s adventurous body of work has attracted fans among iconic guitarists, including Andy Summers of The Police, ECM luminary David Torn and avant-garde notable Elliott Sharp.
Harvey has played on stages from Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and St. Ann’s Warehouse to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Center, CalArts’ Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, Scotland’s Royal Lyceum Theatre and the United Nations. Harvey has also been featured in broadcast performances for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, The Today Show, WNYC-FM, numerous PBS specials, as well as the 72nd annual Tony Awards.
Artists he has performed and/or recorded with over the years have included: Katrina Lenk, David Yazbek, Tom Kitt, Jamshied Sharifi, Henri Scars Struck, Karl Berger, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Sana Nagano Atomic Pigeons, Bern Nix, Noël Akchoté, Gerry Hemingway, Lukas Ligeti, and Rhys Chatham’s, A Crimson Grail. He has been featured on multiple compilation albums including the fifth in Elliott Sharp’s anthology series Never Meta Guitar; Go Where There Is No Path, a Destiny Records anthology supporting artists for racial equality; and Walk My Way, a five-volume 577 Records set featuring 49 guitarists of 32 different nationalities from six continents. His recent recordings include a drum/guitar duo interpretation of Shostakovich Preludes, and a guitar trio led by Colombian guitarist Daniel Reyes Llinas for the 7D Media label curated by King Crimson alum, Trey Gunn.
Harvey teaches guitar and oud, privately and on Truefire and is a contributing writer for Premier Guitar Magazine.
Harvey proudly plays and endorses gear by: StringJoy strings, D’Addario Strings, FIAM Guitars, Teuffel Guitars.
"Valdes displays a fresh harmonic conception... His thoughtful improvisations are consistently intriguing, giving listeners a completely different look at these songs.” — Scott Yanow, NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"Harvey brings an improviser’s sensibility to Bach, which is in so many ways the most authentic approach to the music. There is an understated quality to his interpretations that allows a listener to hear the architecture of the music, and there is a rhythmic malleability that gives breath and presence.”
— Simone Dinnerstein
"Guitarist Harvey Valdes, on PointCounterPoint, trades John McLaughlin-style searing, soaring virtuosity and spiritual questing for a gnarly punk jazz base, injecting manic metal mannerisms into the crunchy rhythms, while scattershot violin motifs and tone-tweaking take listeners through uncharted idiomatic terrain.”
— Josef Woodard, JAZZIZ