Dave Valentin has come full circle. A Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, Valentin rose from poverty to become one of the world's top jazz flutists. Now, Valentin uses his musical talents to give back to disadvantaged communities by performing benefit concerts like the show he'll give at the Fine Arts Center to raise funds for the Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region -- an organization that "promotes equality by securing equal opportunities and the disadvantaged through education, economic self-sufficiency, community building and advocacy."
A Grammy winner for his 2002 album Caribbean Jazz Project, Valentin is internationally acclaimed for his distinctively percussive flute style that combines the allure of spicy, Latin rhythms and modern jazz technique.
"Dave's playing is one of a kind," said event co-sponsor Fred Whitacre, who, along with the Urban League, invited an eager Valentin to perform at the event. "No matter who he's playing with -- and he's played with some jazz legends -- Dave is always a step above everybody else. "
Growing up in a poor neighborhood, Valentin excelled at music from an early age. Though initially interested in percussion instruments, Valentin discovered the music of legendary jazz flutist Herbert Laws in his late teens and was immediately hooked. After numerous world tours and a repeated success on the jazz charts, Valentin has more recently become something of an ambassador for jazz music, serving as a role model for young people from a variety of backgrounds.
"Not to even mention his amazing talent, Dave is such a great person," said Whitacre. "He sincerely wants to make a difference, and that in itself would be enough; but on top of that, he's such a terrific musician."
Whitacre, the former president and general manager for the Hawaii Islanders (the minor-league baseball team that would later become the Colorado Springs Sky Sox) has worked with Valentin on similar events in the past, but said that Valentin was particularly excited about this event and the opportunity to help the Urban League.
"He's achieved tremendous success, coming out a place full of culture but also full of despair. At this point, he just wants to give something back."
The concert, which comes on the heels of a sold-out performance at New York's Carnegie Hall, will feature Valentin employing an arsenal of flutes, ranging from various ethnic instruments collected throughout his travels to the more familiar, classical incarnations of the instrument.
In addition to the performance, an artist's reception for Valentin will also be held at the Fine Arts Center where fans and supporters will get the opportunity meet and greet the Latin jazz legend.
"We're hoping that an event like this attracts a really diverse crowd: jazz lovers, local music supporters and anybody who wants to make a difference in the community," said Whitacre.
-- Joe Kuzma
Dave Valentin benefit concert for the Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region
Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Thursday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.
General admission: $25
Meet-and-greet reception, including hors d' oeuvres: $75