Dave Valentin is on the short list of popular jazz flutists that includes the late Herbie Mann and Hubert Laws. Voted Best Flutist by the readers of Jazziz Magazine for eight consecutive years, Dave is a prolific recording artist whose discography includes 15 titles for GRP Records, the label that with his help established the Smooth Jazz sound.
Born in the South Bronx to Puerto Rican parents in 1954, Dave started playing Latin percussion at age five and began performing professionally at 11, picking up the flute when he was 16. After buying an album by Laws, Dave looked the flutist up in the Musicians Union Directory, called, asked for lessons and studied with him for six months.
This willingness of a master musician to help a young student would have a profound effect on Dave who returned to his public junior high school and founded an after school project called “Change Through Music” where he taught Latin Jazz to inner city kids and was able to involve gang members in the program.
Dave’s travels to different countries have introduced him to other musical traditions and he has collected flutes from Japan, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and from African and Native American cultures that he uses in performance.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.