The flute is a well-established classica  and world music instrument.  Great flute players abound in tropical latin music, e.g.  José Fajardo, Richard Egues, Johnny Pacheco just to name a few.  Occasionally a flute player hits big in pop music, e.g. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, but in jazz there have never been very many flute players.  Doublers who play sax, clarinet, and flute, but as a primary horn the flute is a minor species in jazz.

Jazz sax players, pianists:  tons of them all over the world.   And great jazz flute players:   you can pretty much count them on one hand.  Hubert Laws, the Cuban flutist Maraca, and Dave Valentin (whose teacher was Hubert Laws)  come to mind.  So does the late Joe Farrell, who worked with Chick Corea’s band Return to Forever.  Herbie Mann popularized jazz flute but wasn’t much on good flute sound or improvisations, though his music had nice groove appeal.  Kent Jordan was, but has disappeared, perhaps into academia in New Orleans.

There was recently a touching piece on Dave Valentin in the New York Times Magazine that tracked his daily routine:

Then I hear on Ned Sublette’s superb blog Nedslist that Dave Valentin suffered a stroke.  He’d already had a heart attack in January (the cardiologist who treated him was a flute player and asked for his autograph, which Valentin gave him—after the operation! And now a debilitating stroke.  For a musician, this is catastrophic.

I’m a flute player who’s admired Dave’s work for a long time so I sent a check.  You can to if you’re so moved:  here is the info:

For those who wish to support Valentin on his road to recovery, tax deductible donations can be sent to the laudable organization that has already begun to help the flutist in his time of need, The Jazz Foundation of America, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036.  All checks or money orders should note Dave Valentin in the memo line.

Here is a video of Dave Valentin at work:

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and a tabula rasa improvised flute solo that blows everybody away:

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  • tom

    you must be a flute player! 5 key or C flute?

  • tom

    i asked for more info from the jazz association I sent a $100 check to, but they never answered. do you have any news on Dave's health status & recovery?

  • R.H. Maiao

    Dear Dave, Hang Tough, All Of us fellow Jazz, Afro- Brazilian Jazz, and Afr-Cuban Jazz Flautist, Flutists are pulling for You. I suffered a stroke when I was young, it killed my pro-hockey career. As a result I went back to university, studied, woodshedded, and earned my graduate, and post grad degrees in jazz performance, and pedagogy. Playing my flutes, and reeds, helped me immensly in my ultimate recovery. Amor y Paz. Rossario.

    • tom

      very heartening to read your words Rossario. i'm a flute player too…..can't find out DV's current status……

  • tom schnabel

    hi Oseiku,

    let me know if you hear anything. i contributed money to the organization i mentioned but never heard anything back……Artie Webb, another GREAT flute player, also has had recent problems….