Story by Gregg McQueen
Throughout his career, Grammy Award-winning Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentín has been well known for assisting fellow artists and generously supporting local organizations.
It comes as little surprise that in Valentin’s own time of need, so many people would look to return the favor.
On Tues., Jul. 1st at the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, a benefit concert for the artist will take place.
The show features a roster of Latin jazz luminaries including ten-time Grammy winner and pianist Eddie Palmieri, Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra leader Arturo O’Farrill, percussionist and arranger Bobby Sanabria, bassists Rubén Rodríguez and Andy González, Bronx-based pianist Valerie Capers, trombonist and band leader Papo Vázquez and flutist Eddy Zervigón of Charanga group Orquesta Broadway.
Valentín, a lifelong Bronx resident, suffered a stroke in March 2012 and has been unable to perform since.
Entitled “Para Ti” (For You), the concert will raise money to defray the costs of Valentín’s medical bills and assist with the musician’s living expenses.
“Dave was always kind to everyone,” said Robert Sancho, Vice President of Development and External Affairs at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, one of the show’s organizers.
“It wasn’t very hard finding artists who wanted to help out for this concert.”
Sancho said that Valentín had a reputation for performing various benefit shows and helping community organizations.
“He was always doing fundraising, especially in the Bronx,” commented Sancho.
“It’s our turn to support him.”
Valentín would also play at street festivals and music workshops for children, for no compensation.
“The Bronx is so important to Dave,” remarked Richie Bonilla, Valentín’s longtime friend and manager. “He would always talk about it during his stage show.”
Born in 1952 to Puerto Rican parents, Valentín’s love for music started at an early age — he played bongos and congas before he was 10 and worked in Latin clubs by age 12.
While at Bronx Community College, Valentín switched to playing flute. He appeared on his first recording in 1977 with Ricardo Marrero’s group.
Valentín later became the first musician to be signed to the popular GRP recording label, where he released over fifteen albums.
Bonilla called the flutist an innovator in the Latin jazz genre.
“When Dave first started out, the flute was not the primary instrument in Latin jazz; it wasn’t very common,” explained Bonilla.
“He brought the flute to the forefront,” said Bonilla. “Dave was groundbreaking in that regard.”
In 2002, Valentín won a Grammy Award, along with vibraphonist Dave Samuels and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, for the Caribbean Jazz Project’s recording The Gathering.
In addition to leading his own groups, Valentínalso served as musical director for Tito Puente and his Golden Men of Latin Jazz.
Valentín’s music director, pianist Bill O’Connell, will organize the music for the benefit concert.
Sancho remarked that Hostos Community College was the ideal setting for the event, due to Valentín’s longtime relationship with the school.
Hostos President Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said that Valentín “performed on Hostos Center stages on many occasions since our opening, and donated his talents when needed for scholarship fundraisers and other functions.”
He added, “We are honored and delighted to host this musical tribute and fundraiser for him.”
According to Bonilla, Valentín’s speech and ability to walk have been impaired, but have greatly improved from when the stroke occurred two years ago.
Valentínplans to appear at the benefit concert, and go onstage to thank the artists and audience.
“Dave is really appreciative of what everyone is doing and he wants to express his gratitude,” said Bonilla.
“We hope that one day he’ll be up there again, able to perform.”
“Para Ti: A Benefit Concert for Dave Valentín,” will be held on Tuesday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Main Theater at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $25 and $35, with VIP tickets available for $175.
To purchase tickets, call the Hostos Center Box Office at 718.518.4455 or visit www.hostos.cuny.edu/culturearts.