NPR logo Remembering Dave Valentin, The Dazzling Latin Jazz Flutist

Remembering Dave Valentin, The Dazzling Latin Jazz Flutist

Longtime Bandmate Robby Ameen Highlights His 5 Favorite Valentin Performances

Dave Valentin, pictured on the cover of his 1981 album Pied Piper, died Wednesday at the age of 64. GRP hide caption

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Dave Valentin, pictured on the cover of his 1981 album Pied Piper, died Wednesday at the age of 64.

GRP

"You would hear two notes and you would know it was Dave. His tone, his creativity, his humor. It all came out in his playing no matter what style or genre."

With those words, drummer Robby Ameen offers a loving and professional assessment of his bandmate and friend, Dave Valentin, who died Wednesday at the age of 64. You can read his official obituary by Nate Chinen on WBGO.org.

While flute is a bit of a specialty item in jazz, in Afro-Caribbean music it's used widely, especially in Cuban charanga bands: large ensembles with multiple violins and flutes that reflect Cuba's European heritage.

Valentin was proficient in dance genres and used them to create his own fusion of jazz and Cuban traditions that featured the cream of the crop of New York's Latin music community.

Robby Ameen recorded and traveled with Dave Valentin for more than three decades. He listed five of his favorite tracks by his longtime friend for Alt.Latino.

Remembering Dave Valentin, The Dazzling Latin Jazz Flutist

"Encendido (On Fire)"

  • from Kalahari

This is from Kalahari, the first record I recorded with Dave. I was totally in awe of him and this is him at his best, burning and flying, but with his amazing rhythmic palette that would make everyone dance ... on fire.

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Song
Kalahari
Album
Kalahari
Artist
Dave Valentin
Label
GRP Records
Released
1984

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"Reel Life"

  • from Kalahari

Also from Kalahari, swinging and sweet, with that purity of tone that few flutists, classical or not, are lucky enough to achieve.

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Song
Kalahari
Album
Kalahari
Artist
Dave Valentin
Label
GRP Records
Released
1984

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"Afro Blue"

  • from Live at the Blue Note

From Live at the Blue Note. In 35-plus years of gigging I don't think we ever played a show without playing Mongo SantamarĂ­a's classic. This featured the great Giovanni Hidalgo on congas from when he was part of the band, and of course Dave's infectious live vibe.

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Song
Live at the Blue Note
Album
Live at the Blue Note
Artist
Dave Valentin
Label
GRP Records
Released
1988

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Solo Flute

  • from Live at the Blue Note

Dave would always take us on a world-wide journey of the flute, collecting them wherever we'd travel. He loved nature so we always called this the National Geographic part of the show!

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Song
Live at the Blue Note
Album
Live at the Blue Note
Artist
Dave Valentin
Label
GRP Records
Released
1988

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"Obsession"

  • from Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis: Showcase [DVD]

And finally after "Afro Blue," this was definitely the most-performed song at all the shows. It became Dave's signature and you can feel the joy.

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Song
Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis: Showcase [DVD]
Album
Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis: Showcase [DVD]
Artist
Ramsey Lewis
Label
LRS Media
Released
2006

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