Jazz flautist, DAVE VALENTIN died yesterday, Wednesday 8th March. He was 64 and reports suggest that he died from complications of a stroke and Parkinson’s disease. His manager, Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Dave had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years and had not been in good health for some time.
Born in the South Bronx in 1952, Valentin took up bongo playing when he was just 5. His father, a merchant seaman, brought a set home from Brazil. He also took up the piano but went on to teach himself the flute eventually taking lesson from Hubert Laws.
He made his recording debut in 1977 and went onto record numerous albums –as leader, as session musician and as part of band. Amongst those he collaborated with are: Noel Pointer, Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Chris Connor, David Benoit, Eliane Elias and his childhood idol Tito Puente. Dave was one of the first artists to be signed to GRP Records and in 2003 he won a Grammy for best Latin jazz album with ‘The Gathering’ credited to the Caribbean Jazz Project. Valentin’s main collaborator on the project was vibraphonist Dave Samuels.
In a New York Times interview, Dave recalled how he took up the flute: “I started out as a percussionist in school. But I wanted to meet this girl, Irene, who was a flutist. She showed me a scale, and I played it immediately. Do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do. Without knowing nothing! So, I borrowed a flute, bought a Herbie Mann record and learned ‘Comin’ Home Baby.’ Three weeks later, I went to her and played it. I knew I had her! But she said, “I’ve been taking lessons for three years and you come in here in three weeks and play like that? Don’t ever talk to me again!” I lost the girl, but kept the flute. “