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Valentín, Dave - Jazz

Reknown Latin jazz flutist, Dave Valentín, was born of Puerto Rican parents in 1952 in New York City. His love for music started quite early; playing bongos and congas before he was 10 and even working Latin clubs in New York by 12. His talent and interest took him to the well respected High School of Music and Art in New York City, where he began studying percussion.

Valentín changed to flute and complemented his formal education at school with private classes under master flutist Hubert Laws. The early influences on Valentín's development as a flutist came from Latin artists such as Richard Egues but was tempered by American jazz musicians including James Moody, Frank Wess, Joe Farrell and, of course, his mentor, Hubert Laws.

Valentín soon began working as a professional musician in Latin bands, developing an unusual technique that featured blowing in a manner that sounded like percussion. Other unique developments by Valentín included singing into the flute and using non-standard flute instruments such a bass flute and a variety of flute developed in Colombia. He applied his techniques to a wide variety of music genres, ranging from jazz and R&B to salsa and merengue.

The fusion of jazz and Latin rhythms was a process begun by famous Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo and American jazz icon, Dizzy Gillespie, in the 1940's. Arrangers like Machito and Mario Bauza helped that development, giving rise to a new jazz style that has attracted many loyal fans and talented artists such as Valentín.

Despite the fact that the market for Latin jazz artists was not very good when Valentín was trying to establish his professional career, he persevered and pursued other avenues. He made a name for himself in the Far East, Australia, and Europe as well as the United States, based on his extraordinary and evident talent.

Valentín released his debut album in 1977 with Ricardo Marrero and also appeared on a recording by Noel Pointer. He was the first artist to sign with the GRP label, respected for its talented pool of Jazz artists and technical leadership in digital recording techniques. Valentín produced 16 recordings for GRP, and became the best Latin jazz instrumentalist in the market.

His more recent recordings were released on other record labels, such as Primitive Passions in 1966 on RMM Records. That album was followed by Sunshower in 1999 on the Concord Jazz label, and featuring more smooth Latin jazz, such as  Reunion, which shows the great influence of Hupert Laws.

To his artistic credit, Valentín is also a composer, arranger, and band leader in addition to being the most celebrated Latin flutist today. He won a Grammy nomination in 1985 and the kudos of jazz fans with his selection as the leading jazz flutist by Jazziz magazine readers for seven years running.

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