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World On A String by Dave Valentin

After more than twenty albums and a Grammy award, Dave Valentin is well-established as a leader, and perhaps the pre-eminent flutist, in the Latin jazz realm. So, by now, Valentin has established an approach that works both live and on record-beautifully executed Latin forms, with a strong jazz content supplied by the soloists, over a powerful percussion-driven rhythm section. His latest release, World On A String, does not diverge from this formula; it succeeds through quality and spirit rather than any surprises. Above all, Valentin's work always expresses a sense of joy in music making that stems directly from his ebullient personality. "Music is supposed to be fun.... If you can't have fun on the bandstand, then why be there in the first place" : he says.

As attractive as this quality may be, it is not the sole reason why this music works : these are excellent musicians with great chops. Plus, this is a working unit; O'Connell, Goines and Ameen have worked with Dave for years and appear on several of his earlier recordings. The cohesion of the group is evident throughout. As always, the percussionists are top quality, while holding the whole thing together is Bill O'Connell, who deserves plaudits for his two-fisted piano work. Why he is not better known is a mystery to me. As for Valentin-lovely tone, perfect intonation, great flow of ideas- he is simply the master of this genre.

The writing is on the same level as the playing. There are a couple of standards-Harold Arlen's "I've Got The World On A String" and Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You". All the other selections are original compositions by Valentin and O'Connell, except for "Passion Fruit" which is by Ronnie Cuber, who also adds his gruff baritone work to the track.

The only thing better than a Dave Valentin recording is a live performance, so his best recording is probably still Live at the Blue Note which captures something of that excitement. But this recording comes close. Try to catch Dave Valentin live some time soon. Meanwhile, if you like music that moves both the feet and the spirit, you will very much enjoy this recording!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dave Valentin
  • CD Title: World On A String
  • Genre: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Highnote Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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