DAVE VALENTIN – LEGENDARY JAZZ FUNK FLAUTIST RIP
Latin Jazz Fusion flautist Dave Valentin passed away on Wednesday 8th March 2017 following a stroke. He had also been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Dave Valentin was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents on 29th April 1952.
He attended the High School of Music & Art in New York. Valentin took up the flute at the age of twelve so he could get to know a flute playing girl at school, Irene Cathcart. Already a professional percussionist, he borrowed a flute and bought a Herbie Mann record (‘Comin Home Baby’) to practice and taught himself to play. After three weeks, he was ready. She was so impressed with his playing that she declared that she never wished to see him again, stating that he played better than she did after three years. Valentin lost the girl – though they remained friends for the rest of his life, but kept the flute!
He also took lessons from the legendary Jazz and Classical flautist Hubert Laws, who later became something of a mentor. During the 70’s, Valentin played in various bands that fused Latin and Jazz. His big break came when he released his first album on Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen’s Arista GRP label in 1978. ‘Legends’, the first release on the label, is a very fine set of Latin Jazz Fusion and features an excellent interpretation of Mongo Santamaria’s classic ‘Afro Blue’.
Alongside Tom Browne and Angie Bofill, Valentin became a staple of Arista GRP and helped establish the label’s credentials. He recorded further gems including the follow-up to ‘Legends’ entitled ‘The Hawk’ and ‘Land Of The Third Eye’; both highly recommended. Valentin recorded for GRP throughout the eighties and early nineties, making over fifteen albums including a collaboration with Herbie Mann entitled ‘Two Amigos’. He also guested on albums by the likes of Patti Austin, Nneena Freelon, and Noel Pointer and performed with McCoy Tyner and Tito Puente.
The flautist was nominated for a Grammy in 1985 and won one in 2003 for the album ‘Caribbean Jazz Project’ he recorded with Dave Samuels. He also won Jazzizz’s poll for the best Jazz flautist for seven years in a row.
Dave Valentin suffered a stroke in 2012 leaving him partially paralyzed and another in 2015. He had been living in an extended care facility, assisted by Irene Cathcart. His early Jazz Fusion albums for Arista GRP remain some of the finest of the late 70’s and early 80’s. RIP.