Picks and Pans Review: The Hawk
As a teenager in the South Bronx, Dave Valentin learned to play the flute by listening to Herbie Mann and Hubert Laws records, then at 15 studied under Laws. Now, 12 years and two albums later, Valentin establishes himself as one of the eminent flutists in jazz. The arrangements—mostly by keyboardist Dave Grusin, who also produced the LP and plays in the vigorous backup band—lean toward Latin and rock flavoring. But the real attraction is Valentin's rich tone and lively improvisation. The selections include an up-tempo version of the Beatles' underappreciated Blackbird and a slowed, almost blues rendition of the 1960 Sam Cooke hit What a Wonderful World (co-written by Herb Alpert). Angela Bofill chimes in delightfully with a vocal on We'll Make Love and Valentin explores—at perhaps excessive length—Chick Corea's Windows. Valentin's first album, Legends, made one of the jazz charts for 15 weeks; The Hawk is at least its equal.