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New Album Feature: José Valentino’s Claude Bolling Goes Latin

Dr. José Valentino is celebrated for his contributions to global music, Latin music, jazz, classical, EDM, gospel, hip-hop, pop, and funk fusion, earning prestigious accolades such as Inc. Magazine's Best in Business® Award, Fast Company's Most Innovative Company in the World® Award, an EMMY® Award, multiple Latin GRAMMY® Awards and Nominations, 26 Global Music® Awards, 2 IADAS Anthem® Awards, 10 Global Genius® Awards, 4 AVA Digital® Awards, and 55 Downbeat® Music Awards. His collaborations with distinguished flutists Jim Walker and Viviana Guzman, and performances with legendary artists like Chick Corea, Paquito D'Rivera, and Aaron Neville, highlight his exceptional versatility and talent. Beyond his performance career, Dr. Valentino is the Founder and Director of the Music Business & Entrepreneurship program at the University of Florida, where he is a Tenured Associate Professor, shaping the future of music education while continuing to innovate and excel as an artist and producer. His work as a formidable arts business executive, instrumentalist, album producer, and scholar has been featured in prestigious publications like Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Fortune Magazine, solidifying his profound impact on the contemporary worlds of music, film, academic, and business industries.

Brief history of the Album

Dr. Carlomagno Araya and Dr. José Valentino are excited to present their collaborative album, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Claude Bolling's "Suite for Flute and Jazz Trio." This project pays homage to Bolling's groundbreaking fusion of classical and jazz by incorporating vibrant Ibero-American folk rhythms from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, enriching the original compositions with a fresh cultural perspective. The album, produced, arranged, and performed on drums and percussion by Dr. Araya, infuses the suite with dynamic Ibero-American rhythms and melodies, maintaining Bolling and Rampal's innovative spirit. Dr. Valentino, serving as the flute soloist, co-artist, and recording engineer, breathes new life into Jean-Pierre Rampal’s iconic interpretations by incorporating the rich textures of Latin American music. The ensemble includes Jorge Glem on the Venezuelan cuatro, Ernesto Laya on maracas, Eduardo Montero on piano, Jamie Ousley on upright bass, and Ramses Araya on percussion, each adding their unique sound to the album. The production is further elevated by the expertise of Latin GRAMMY® and GRAMMY® Winning engineer Eduardo Martinez, who mixed the album, and Eduardo "Gualo" Jaramillo, a two-time EMMY® Award Winner and 2024 Golden Globe Award Nominee, who mastered it. This album is a celebration of tradition and innovation, inviting listeners on a culturally enriched musical journey that honors the pioneering essence of Bolling's timeless works.

1. Why did you record this album?

Recording this CD was a profound opportunity to further advance my lifelong mission of galvanizing cultures and generations of music lovers. The blending of flute, Latin, jazz, and classical music is not just a musical endeavor but a representation of the unity and commonality that binds us as humans. This project, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Claude Bolling's "Suite for Flute and Jazz Trio," provided a perfect canvas to honor and elevate an iconic masterpiece while infusing it with vibrant Ibero-American rhythms.

My mission has always been to create music that transcends boundaries, whether through my contemporary classical works, jazz, funk, or the albums I produce for other artists and films. Each project is a testament to the power of music to connect diverse cultures and generations, showcasing how seemingly distinct styles can merge seamlessly to highlight our shared humanity. This album, "Claude Bolling Goes Latin: Suite for Flute & Latin Music Ensemble", stands as yet another model of this vision, celebrating the rich tapestry of global instrumental music and its ability to inspire, entertain, and bring people together. Through this recording, we aim to honor Bolling's legacy while contributing our unique cultural voices, ensuring that the timeless beauty of this music continues to resonate with audiences today and for generations to come.

2. Where did you get your Inspiration?

My inspiration for this album draws deeply from the great cross-genre flutists, notably Jim Walker, Viviana Guzman, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Their stories and their ability to perform with authenticity throughout their lives, continuously reinterpreting pieces to reflect their emotions and life circumstances, have profoundly influenced me. This approach has inspired me to infuse my performances with the same level of personal expression and emotional depth.

Although I did not compose this suite—an unusual scenario considering I've composed thousands of flute pieces—recording it presented a unique opportunity to take a beloved work and make it my own. I sought to find a personal connection to this music, which I did not grow up listening to, and reinterpret it in a way that honors its significance to musicians and listeners alike. The beauty of this piece lies in its ability to be continuously reinvented, and I am almost certain that my performance of it would differ each time, just as my flute heroes have taught me through their ever-evolving interpretations. Their legacy inspires me to approach each performance as a new and unique expression of the music, keeping it fresh and relevant for every audience.

3. Facts about the project?

FACT #1: I recorded my flute parts for the album in my home studio, as this project was produced remotely with musicians based in the USA, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. This is a common practice for me, as I frequently record flute and bass guitar for movies, albums, and television documentaries from the comfort of my home. Remarkably, I completed the entire album in approximately one and a half hours. The producer sent me the incredible live instrument arrangements, which were so inspiring that I quickly recorded the 35-minute piece, made a few tweaks to align with the producer's vision for a 2nd session in my studio and while I was on tour across the beautiful state of Florida, and then it was done.

FACT #2: Three flutists played a crucial role in advising me on the standard considerations for performing this piece before I implemented my own Latin jazz adaptations. Dr. Kim McCormick, my flute professor for over 21 years; Dr. Eftihia Arkoudis, a brilliant Greek flutist and colleague who lectures in Music Business & Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida and also helped me find the music; and Dr. Thaddaeus Bourne, one of my tour managers and a great flutist, who encouraged me to go deeper in infusing my personality into my interpretations while I was practicing for the recording session. These three flutists have guided me on many albums and accompanied me on travels across the USA and internationally. Lastly, the flute I used for this album was crafted by Puerto Rico's exceptional flute maker and flutist, Gerardo Hernandez, CEO of Sefarad Winds. I could not have accomplished this without their invaluable support.

FACT #3:
In the piece titled "Baroque", the energetic rhythms and harp-like sounds of the Venezuelan Joropo introduce a lively, folkloric vibe, complementing the Baroque sophistication. This is enhanced by the playful and rhythmic Cuban Cha cha, infusing the piece with vibrant, syncopated energy. The addition of the festive Costa Rican Parrandera lends a communal, celebratory spirit, amplifying the lively atmosphere of the composition. "Sentimentale" explores the emotional depths of the Bolero with its slow, smooth tempo that emphasizes romance and sentimentality, paired beautifully with the soft, samba-infused rhythm of the Brazilian Bossa Nova, adding a layer of suave sophistication. The "Javanaise" piece merges the sensuous Bolero Rumba, blending the slow-tempo Bolero with the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Rumba, with the fast, joyful rhythm of Venezuelan Merengue. Thiscontrast creates a dynamic interplay between the seductive dance rhythms and the quicker, joyous beats. "Fugace" features the upbeat, sunny flavor of Caribbean Calypso, known for its Afro-Caribbean rhythms and festive vibe. This is balanced with the infectious energy of Brazilian Samba and the dynamic tempo of Mambo, which together emphasize the fleeting, quicksilver nature of the piece. In "Irlandaise", the poignant and graceful Argentinian Zamba adds a layer of delicate, folk-driven emotion, offering a counterpoint to the suite's more vibrant movements. "Versatile" revisits the adaptable and playful character of the Cha cha, highlighting the piece's versatility. It is complemented by the sophisticated, elegant Cuban Danzon, characterized by its slow, refined, and intricate rhythms, showcasing the music's adaptability. Finally, "Veloce" is infused with the fast-paced, rhythmic Brazilian Baiao, adding earthy, energetic sounds that mirror the swift nature of the composition. The reintroduction of Brazilian Samba accentuates the rapid, jubilant qualities, reinforcing the 'swift'—Italian for 'Veloce'—aspect of the piece.

FACT #4: This project had been in discussion for years. I recall encouraging the producer to pursue it, as it was initially his vision of making this album, but understandably, he was busy with business commitments. Eventually, he reached out persistently and enthusiastically, and despite my hectic schedule as a joint-venture business executive, professor, performer, and producer, plus being a father and husband, I finally found the time to record the flute. We were both in-demand in different seasons of our lives, so I’m grateful that it worked out, as this album represents a wonderful collaboration and the realization of my colleague’s dream. Dr. Araya, a talented drummer, producer, engineer, and professor, envisioned this project and offered me the opportunity among the hundreds of flutists who––in my humble opinion––could have brilliantly interpreted this music as well. Hence, it is a kind gesture on both our parts to support each other. Flutes and drums go hand-in-hand; it's the first music we hear in our mothers' womb: her breath and her heartbeat. So, the collaboration on a production and musicianship level between Dr. Araya and me just made sense. Who knew drummers loved Claude Bolling's flute music? HAHA. I hope all flutists and music lovers do too!

3) Tracklist

1. Baroque and Blue
2. Sentimentale
3. Javanaise
4. Fugace
5. Irlandaise
6. Versatile
7. Veloce



Album Review:

Claude Bolling Goes Latin by Jose Valentino and Carlomagno Araya

Claude Bolling Goes Latin, the latest collaborative effort from flutist, Jose Valentino and pianist, Carlomagno Araya, is an exemplary sonic experience that reimagines Claude Bolling's classic Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano through a vibrant Latin lens. This ambitious album pays homage to Bolling’s groundbreaking fusion of classical music and jazz, integrating the rich tapestry of Ibero-American folk rhythms from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. The result is a multicultural auditory journey that honors the original while boldly venturing into new territory.

Jose Valentino's extraordinary virtuosity on the flute, coupled with Carlomagno Araya's remarkable rhythmic sensibilities, form the backbone of this innovative project. Their synergy is palpable throughout the album, driving each piece with passion and precision. Valentino's fluid and dynamic flute playing shines in every track, while Araya's percussive and beautiful sonorities add depth and texture, creating a seamless blend of classical and Latin elements.

The album also features a stellar lineup of musicians who elevate the overall performance to new heights. Jamie Ousley on bass, Ramses Araya on percussion, and Ernesto Laya add layers of complexity and excitement, completing the Latin-influenced brilliance of this album. Each musician brings their unique flair, contributing to a cohesive and electrifying sound that distinguishes this album from its predecessor.

The standout tracks on Claude Bolling Goes Latin include the fiery "Baroque and Blue," where the fusion of baroque motifs and Latin rhythms creates a mesmerizing dialogue between past and present. "Sentimentale," reinterpreted with a sultry, tropical twist, captures the emotional depth of the original while infusing it with vibrant new energy. "Fugace," with its rapid, intricate passages, showcases Valentino's technical prowess and the ensemble's tight-knit performance.

The historical significance of Bolling’s original Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano cannot be overstated. Composed for the legendary flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, the suite enjoyed an unprecedented tenure on the Billboard classical album charts, remaining there for 530 consecutive weeks starting in 1975. It is celebrated as one of the top-selling classical records of all time and was recognized with three GRAMMY® nominations. This new Latin-infused reinterpretation by Valentino and Araya is a testament to the enduring legacy of Bolling’s work, bridging the gap between classical European forms and Latin American folk music.

Claude Bolling Goes Latin is not just a tribute but a bold artistic reimagination that respects the integrity of the original while exploring new musical landscapes. Jose Valentino and Carlomagno Araya have crafted a rich, multicultural experience that will captivate listeners and invite them to rediscover the brilliance of Claude Bolling's compositions through a fresh, vibrant perspective. This album is a must-listen for fans of classical, jazz, and Latin music alike, offering an exhilarating fusion that celebrates the best of all three worlds.

--Viviana Guzmán, The Flute View Magazine

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