Dave Valentin has been making recordings now for 27 years. He has yet to make a bad one. Reviewing his 2005 release World On A String, I attributed his success to a winning formula: ". . . beautifully executed Latin forms, with a strong jazz content supplied by the soloists, over a powerful percussion-driven rhythm section."
For this new release, Come Fly With Me, Dave presents the same approach-in spades. The focus is, if anything, more on Dave's Afro-Cuban-via-Puerto-Rico-by-way-of-the -Bronx roots, with no hint of compromise. Dave's flute is as incisive as ever, along with the still underrated O'Connell (hello Down Beat poll people!) on piano and some fine guest soloists, the late percussionist Ray Barretto's son Chris on tenor and trombonist Papo Vasquez. Above all, percussionists Ameen, Cordona and Flores are burning and, except for a pause for a ballad statement on "If You Could See Me Now", they drive the session along at a high level of intensity from start to finish.
It is a great balance of elements, as the soloists create complex melodic patterns over the constant rhythmic excitement. The nicely paced program is built from one or two standards along with originals from Valentin, music director O'Connell and one, "Song For My Brothers", from Dave's friend and fellow flutist Andrea Brachfeld. As for Valentin, who, recently added a Latin Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award to his earlier Grammy, he holds the whole thing together with his ebullient playing, while giving his cohorts plenty of room to shine.
This is what Latin jazz is all about and Dave Valentin at the top of his game is at the top of the field.