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Album Review

With radio formats as segregated as they are these days, few artists dare mixing two genres on a single recording, let alone the three — smooth jazz, lite bebop, and Latin — that the famed flutist does here. For a spell, Valentin keeps the pace easygoing, as lighthearted tunes like "Reunion," the soundscape-heavy title track, and a wistful "Embers" (featuring some kindly sax playing by Ed Calle) are highly pleasant but hardly taxing on the chops. Read: Throw these at the smooth-jazz audience. A gentle, late-night cover of the Ellington classic "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" shows not only a bit more depth but also a seamless interaction with pianist Bill O'Connell, who wrote and arranged many of these tunes. Not until the playful, Afro-Cuban-meets-Peruvian-panpipes-effect of the jam on "Subway Six," however, does Valentin really go for the gusto, soloing with abandon — and then there's no stopping him. "Sierra Madre" rolls along coolly for a time before guitarist Steve Khan — who plays throughout — takes a crisp electric solo, which is followed by one of vibist Dave Samuels' most animated guest solos to date and McConnell's amazing piano improvs. They could have taken a conventional approach on Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," but by that time they're so worked up and "out" that you can hardly recognize the pop standard. "Space Cadet" features weird vocal calls and the kind of wild spirit that you might expect in a club setting where no one is setting a timer. Great playing, lots of variety, and even some colorful liner notes by notable Latin jazz journalist Mark Holston.


Born: 1954 in Chelmsford, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Dave Valentin, who recorded over 15 albums for GRP, combined together the influence of pop, R&B, and Brazilian music with Latin jazz to create a slick and accessible form of crossover jazz. At age nine, Valentin enjoyed playing bongos and congas. He gigged at Latin clubs in New York from age 12 and it was not until he was 18 that he seriously started studying flute. Valentin's teacher, Hubert Laws, suggested that he not double on saxophone because of his attractive sound on the flute. In 1977, he...
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Sunshower, Dave Valentin
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