Triple Play Featuring Bill O'Connell, Dave Valentin and Richie Flores
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Triple Play Featuring Bill O'Connell, Dave Valentin and Richie Flores

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Latin




"CD REVIEW: "Triple Play""

With the plethora of trio recordings being released these days it’s refreshing not to have to listen to another piano/drum/ bass combo that’s driving me to the point of musical boredom. When I received “Triple Play” I cringed and thought “oh no, not another one” but I quickly recovered when I realized there was no standard bass or drums here as pianist Bill O’Connell is accompanied by renowned flautist Dave Valentin and veteran percussionist Richie Flores for one distinctly different session of trio music for a change and what a change it is!

Having played in various salsa and Latin jazz settings throughout his career, New York pianist O’Connell joins Valentin and Flores on a set of unique Latin jazz grooves. All three players come charging out of the gate on the furious opening title track, “Triple Play” and find a slower rhythm on the following “Flying By.” O’Connell starts the third cut “Machu Picchu” which finds percussionist Flores beating the Cajon instead of the congas here.

Valentin takes the lead and plays the alto flute on the mellow “A Call for Sanity” with the pianist providing soothing support on a lovely piece of music. “Just In Time” showcases a duo performance of O’Connell and Flores on the conga. This duo theme is presented once again on the warm “Afro-Blue” ballad with the pianist and the flautist extending their 30-year collaboration and demonstrating just why it has lasted so long. O’Connell is just marvelous here with his light finger play on the keys, he delivers a mesmerizing performance.

In all, “Triple Play” is one unique trio recording and departure from the norm in music and style. With this album, Bill O’Connell makes one very nice musical statement marked by an unusual format and blessed by a cast of luminaries in Dave Valentin and Richie Flores. - Edward Blanco - eJazz News

"CD Review"

Significantly younger than the genre umbrella it falls under, Latin jazz has still been a relatively static art form for decades. Pianist Bill O’Connell recognizes the inherent circumscription and opts to work creatively within it. The approach and feel of the date is akin to Herbie Hancock’s classic Inventions & Dimensions album, where syncopated rhythmic patterns fall into the service of more porous melodic and harmonic forms. O’Connell splits the set almost evenly between covers and originals, the latter indigenous category blending easily with the former and open-ended enough for productive improvisation. Flautist Dave Valentin and conguero Richie Flores are instrumental in bringing both brio and seasoning to the pieces. Valentin is the pianist’s regular employer and their professional relationship dates back over two decades and eleven albums. His funky acrobatic style recalls facets Bobbi Humphrey’s mellifluousness and Roland Kirk’s temerity. No cloying mood music here and the vibrant melodic streak in his improvisations gives the trio an aerated insouciance that’s instantly appealing. Peppering trills, intervallic swoops and forceful vocalizations are all part of the encompassing palette, but he also knows when to play it cool as during the eloquent ballad “A Call for Sanity”. “Machu Picchu” finds him pulling in audible Andean elements while “Cravo e Canela” touches inventively on Brazilian aspects. From his corner, Flores palms vibrantly percolating polyrhythms on his principal set of skins, but also turns to cajon and timbales on a few cuts for added color. O’Connell alternates deftly between responsive comping and enthusiastic soloing, evincing particular sensitivity on two duet encounters with his colleagues. The absence of bass is noticeable, but hardly a problem given the degree to which the three cover the ensemble bases. I have to confess to having felt less than optimistic prior spinning the disc. Nuanced but also direct, the music pulls the plug on such prejudices in short order. - Derek Taylor - Bagatellen


A beautiful album from pianist Bill O'Connell, flautist Dave Valentin, and percussionist Richie Flores. According to the informative liner notes by Felipe Luciano, this ground-breaking trio plays Jazz Latino, not Latin Jazz – the distinction for Luciano being that Latin jazz is essentially instrumental Latin dance music with plenty of soloing, whereas with jazz Latino, the emphasis is on the jazz – it is music to listen to. The album is a mix of originals and standards, Latin and jazz/blues, with O’Connell’s rhythmic, spiritual Steinway anchoring Valentin’s sprightly flute flights and Flores’ prodigious percussion playing. O’Connell is a unique talent with some great compositions to his credit, and he often makes me think of heroes like Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, though of course he’s got his montuno chops down cold, too, having played with some of the best in Latin music, from Angel Canales to Mongo Santamaria. There is never a dull moment here, from the bluesy soul-jazz of Flying By, to several crucial numbers that plumb the well of Latin idioms (Brazilian, Peruvian, and Cuban). O’Connell has played with Valentin for several decades, and their close rapport is something miraculous to behold – their radical deconstruction duet of "Afro Blue" is a case in point, but for me, it was the more up-tempo numbers with all three like "Triple Play" and "Cravo E Canela" that really impressed. -


Bill O'Connell's seventh CD as a leader is full of catchy themes in a Jazz Latino (as opposed to Latin Jazz) setting, according to liner note writer Felipe Luciano. The pianist, who is well accompanied by flautist Dave Valentin and Latin percussionist Richie Flores, start off with the leader's intense, driving "Triple Play." Things cool with the hip, infectious "Flying By," with Valentin's playful flute dancing over O'Connell's soulful Latin groove. The pianist's "A Call For Sanity" has a wistful air with Valentin switching to alto flute, while "Second Son" is a sauntering gem with its share of surprising twists. O'Connell also engages each player in a duet. Flores is his partner for a ridiculously fast romp through the standard "Just in Time," as the pianist tears into the piece with a well-disguised improvised introduction. Valentin is on hand for the slow, rhapsodic treatment of Mongo Santamaria's signature tune, "Afro Blue," though the familiar rhythm is omitted, opting instead to emphasize the melody in a more free form manner. However one labels the style of jazz featured in Triple Play, there's no doubt that this CD will stand the test of time. - Ken Dryden - All Music Guide


Triple Play (Savant)
Latin Jazz Fantasy (Random Chance)
Black Sand (Random Chance)



As a complete rarity in jazz, the piano/flute/percussion triumvirate is nothing less than inspired. But it couldn't work without the high quality of the participants. Players of this caliber ensure that things never get too pat or too pretty.

A native New Yorker who studied classical music at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early in his career, he played in various salsa and jazz settings that set the tone for his musical style. In 1977, he joined salsa great Mongo Santamaria, writing and performing with him for over two years. Following that he worked with Chet Baker and jazz legend Sonny Rollins with whom he toured the United States and Europe. In 1982, he joined Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin, and they have been touring the world
together ever since, performing before enthusiastic audiences everywhere.

Bill, an internationally recognized composer, has his original compositions on CDs by Mongo Santamaria, Emily Remler, Charles Fambrough, and on virtually every recording made by flutist Dave Valentin. One of Valentin's most requested songs, "Oasis", which was recorded by the GRP Allstars for the CD, "GRP Live in Session", is one of Bill's original compositions.

Over the years, Bill has displayed his versatility with numerous other jazz artists including Gato Barbieri, the Fort Apache Band, and vocalists Jon Lucien, Kenny Rankin, and Astrud Gilberto. His six solo recordings, "Searching" on the Inner City label, "Love for Sale" on the Pony Canyon Label, "Signature, featuring Bill O'Connell" on the Blue Moon Mesa label, "Lost Voices" on the CTI label, "Black Sand" and "Latin Jazz Fantasy" on the Random Chance label have received wide critical acclaim throughout the world. On four separate occasions, Bill was the recipient of the coveted "Jazz Writer of the Year" award from SESAC, the performing rights organization. Bill is currently performing with trombonist Conrad Herwig, Dave Valentin and his own band.

Dave Valentin started playing Latin percussion at the age of five and began performing professionally at the age of eleven. At the late age of sixteen he picked up the flute for the first time. After purchasing an album recorded by Hubert Laws, he looked up his name in the Musicians Directory (Union Book), called him and asked for lessons. Mr. Laws is one of the best jazz flutists in the
world. For the next six months he was Dave's mentor. He then took the next three months to train classically with Harold Bennett and three months of training with Harold Jones.

Dave went back to work at his old JHS after school program called "Change Through Music." He taught Latin Jazz to the inner city kids, and was able to involve gang members in this program, thus giving back to his community. He accepted a position as a full time professor teaching Latin and music for several years. His work and dedication influenced many children to continue their education. Dave has become an extraordinary role model, and feels it is up to people in his position to make a change. He accepts this challenge with open arms.

In 1977, Dave made his recording debut with Ricardo Marrero's group and he was also on a Noel Pointer album. Discovered by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, Valentin was the first artist signed to GRP. Dave recorded over 15 albums for GRP, combining the influence of pop, R&B and Brazilian music with Latin jazz to create a slick and accessible form of crossover jazz.

In 2005, Dave Valentin signed an exclusive recording agreement with New York-based HighNote Records. His first recording, "World On a String" (HighNote HCD 7141), was issued in June of that year. His latest HighNote outing, "Come Fly With Me" (HighNote HCD 7160) was released in September, 2006.

Richie Flores, one of the most in-demand percussionists of today's active music scene has captured the attention of fans and critics alike by way of his electric performances that continually thrill audiences worldwide. Recently described by Latin Beat Magazine as having "the fastest hands in the East and the
West," Richie's music is primal and powerful. He is currently in the process of innovating a new sound for the band of which he is leading; an exciting, contemporary fusion containing elements of rap, jazz and even salsa, further complemented by lyrics that contain a positive message of hope, a message that is relevant to the challenging issues we face in today's ever changing world.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, Richie was a prodigious talent as a young child that began playing congas at the early age of 5. He embarked on his professional career by age 8 playing with Grupo Batacumbele and Roberto Roena and the Apollo Sound. By age 13, he traveled to
New York to play with Roberto Roena at the Village Gate, making him one of the youngest musicians ever to travel with a band outside of Puerto Rico. With this successful start under his belt, Richie's musical career continued to evolve by playin