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Dave Valentine, Jazz Forum at 35, JALC’s Family Swing

7/10/2014, 3:48 p.m.
Uptown Family Swing at the United Palace Theater (Frank Stewart photo)

Dave Valentin is a noted jazz musician and Bronx native who earned a reputation as being one of the main influential flautists in jazz. Most recently, many of his friends performed in his honor at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

In 2012, Valentin suffered a stroke and has been unable to perform. This concert, “Para Ti” (“For You”), helped raise funds for the musician’s medical and living expenses. Valentin made an appearance onstage to thank the performing musicians and audience for coming out to support him.

The all-star cast featured Eddie Palmieri, pianist and musical director Bill O’Connell, Nelson Gonzalez on Cuban Tres guitar, Arturo O’Farrell, drummer Bobby Sanabria, trombonist Papo Vazquez, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, the great 95-year-old conga player Candido and pianist Valerie Capers (also born and residing in the Bronx). Due to illness, bassist Andy Gonzalez (who grew up in Edenwald Projects) was unable to attend. All the musicians performed pro bono.

At one point on the stage, there were 20 musicians performing a rousing reconstructed version of “Afro Blue” and Palmieri’s “Dave’s ChaCha.” The big band performance was similar to the Alegra All-Stars or Eddie and Charlie Palmieri playing at the Hotel Diplomat, Concourse Plaza or Corso.

“This concert is to pay tribute and support the greatest flautist to play the instrument—he took it to the highest level,” stated Palmieri. “I am making it my personal business to keep this music alive.”

This was a great concert that raised funds for Valentin. Hopefully, such Latin concerts will be produced in the future. Concerts like this need to return to the Bronx, where the Latin jazz and salsa scenes were vibrant with instruments roaring out of numerous clubs, from the south Bronx to the Grand Concourse and east Bronx.

Valentin was the first musician to be signed by GRP Records in 1979, where he recorded over 15 albums as a leader and won a Grammy in 2002 with vibraphonist Dave Samuels and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera for the Caribbean Jazz Project’s recording of “The Gathering.” Valentin has toured throughout the world and served as musical director for Tito Puente.

To celebrate the recent 35th anniversary of Jazz Forum Arts loft concerts, founder and Executive Director Mark Morganelli united jazz luminaries who originally performed during those hip days of 1979-1983. The concert, JAZZ FORUM @ 35!, was held at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Featured performers were scat master and lyricist Jon Hendricks; Candido; saxophonist Lee Konitz; pianists Kenny Barron, Larry Willis and Michele Rosewoman; guitarist Dave Stryker; saxophonist Sonny Fortune, Billy Hart and Ronnie Cuber; vocalist Marion Cowings; drummers Charli Persip, T.S. Monk, Bobby Sanabria and Michael Carvin; trumpeters Wallace Roney and Valery Ponomarev; trombonist Steve Turre, and bassist Ray Drummond, among others.

The 24-year-old trumpeter Morganelli established the Jazz Forum at 50 Cooper Square in New York City’s East Village for emerging and established artists. He also rented the loft to pianist Barry Harris, who instituted Monday night instruction classes.

The second Jazz Forum operated at 648 Broadway at Bleecker Street from 1981 to 1983. When the Jazz Forum closed in April 1983, Morganelli had presented 1,500 concerts, including shows by Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Sphere, Roy Haynes, Cedar Walton and Tom Harrell.