Facet Road: Latin Jazz Stalwart Struggles to Make Sweet Appears Yet again

January 6th, 2014

“Dave has played on six continents,” his supervisor, Richie Bonilla, mentioned proudly. “He is on your own in his class.”

Now, he is primarily alone in his house. A stroke for the duration of a gig in March 2012 left him paralyzed on his correct side, unable to walk, chat or raise his playing hand. Though he has recovered about eighty five p.c of his abilities, numerous fingers on his appropriate hand are numb, and he can’t keep up his flute for lengthy. Rather, he spends his times in a rented bungalow in Harding Park, a warren of twisty streets alongside the East River in the Bronx.

He moved to this community because it was silent and secluded, a haven for a world-traveling musician with a lot more than a dozen albums and a Grammy to his name. He shares the property with his cats, Mambo, Bomba and Plena — “good cats, they leave my stuff alone” — and his instruments. He was a acquainted sight in the neighborhood, getting a breakfast sandwich at a bodega every single morning, then heading residence to look at the news and practice.

But for an individual recovering from a catastrophic illness, and with no cost savings or well being insurance, residing in his dimly lighted bungalow is like getting in exile from enthusiasts, close friends and the rhythms of each day daily life.

Some times are good. Some days are not.

“How do I manage?” Mr. Valentin, 61, responded when he was asked how he was coping. “I have to. I cannot play. It’s tough. There’s a lot of melancholy and things like that. At times I choose up my flute and perform a few notes. I attempted to play ‘Blackbird’ not that long back. I could not even speak at first. At minimum now I can.”

He shifted on the sofa.

“People arrive to check out, but it can be hard,” he mentioned.

His manager chimed in.

“There’s as well considerably by yourself time,” Mr. Bonilla stated. “He wants a house attendant. I arranged to get him Meals on Wheels since all he was taking in had been sandwiches. Perhaps any person can send over a paella from City Island.”

Cigar smoke and silence hung in the living room. The silence was abnormal for Mr. Valentin, who cherished joking close to so significantly that his supervisor stated he could have been a stand-up comedian.

“No, I would be a teacher,” Mr. Valentin corrected him. “I taught seventh-, eighth- and ninth-quality audio for 3 years in the South Bronx. I had a jazz band and taught them how to enjoy, so when they graduated they ended up completely ready. People were very good times.”

Mr. Bonilla transformed the subject matter, reminding his pal of the most recent batch of handwritten thank-you notes he was sending out. Donations, some taken care of by the Jazz Basis of The usa, have appear from the well-known and the unidentified, some as small as $ 5. Each is acknowledged by Mr. Bonilla, considering that Mr. Valentin are not able to compose.

Mr. Bonilla has assisted his good friend and client with every little thing from fund-increasing advantages to apps for backed housing and social solutions. Even though the most modern gain concert integrated stars like Paquito D’Rivera, it value much more to phase than it elevated. An earlier donation of $ 10,000, from the Puerto Rican city of Mayag?ez, which also honored Mr. Valentin with the important to the city, served avoid further fiscal calamity.

Mr. Bonilla, who manages several of the top Latin musicians, lamented how Mr. Valentin was like other artists of his era, not counting on, considerably considerably less planning for, retirement or disease. Following a profession that would be envied by numerous, Mr. Valentin have to now locate less costly housing — some thing priced at approximately a third of the $ 1,800 he now pays in month-to-month rent and utilities.

What small income he has will operate out by March.

“It’s been a wrestle to maintain up with the expenses,” mentioned Mr. Bonilla, who is nonetheless waiting around to hear about a modern software for housing for older grown ups. “We don’t know when he will be again onstage.”

Even though Mr. Valentin has been widely recorded, jazz royalties are rarely the basis of a retirement program. The money, this kind of as it was, had constantly been in taking part in onstage.

“He was constantly busy,” Mr. Bonilla explained. “He was going to Indonesia, Australia —”

Mr. Valentin reduce him off.

“That’s more than,” he stated. “Over! Now it is just beginning again from scratch.”

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