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Remembering Dave Valentin, The Dazzling Latin Jazz Flutist

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

"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

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.

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.