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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Living Musician I Love - Gary Valente

As a former trombonist, the sound of a well-played sliphorn stirs my blood and causes my heart rate to increase. Gary Valente has the most intense tone of any trombonist - indeed, his raucous, growly shout is unique among all instrumentalists. His use of dynamics (from pianissimo to triple fortisimmo), the rip-roaring glissandi, the splattering stacatto attack - this guy is unique. But it isn't his technique that grabs me - it is his towering passion. Gary Valente is the only trombonist that causes me to choke up when I listen to his solos. I just don't know why I react this way, can't tell you specifically what it is that sends me over the edge.

I first heard Gary Valente on the "Carla Bley - Live" album, which was recorded in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall ("GAMH") in 1981. The GAMH is still open; the building dates back to 1907, but the GAMH began operating in 1972 (I saw Duke Ellington at the GAMH in 1973, less than a year before he died). Gary's "star turn" on the "Carla Bley - Live" album was "The Lord is Listening to Ya, Hallelujah." This tune is a total gospel rave-up; it is on my top ten list for instrumental performances. This is a great tune for people that want to start investigating Valente's work. His other stuff with Carla Bley is also great, and Gary is on at least one of Joe Lovano's records ("Worlds," 1995). Valente is also on George Gruntz's 2006 album, "Tiger By The Tail." As far as I can tell, Gary Valente has not put out an album under his own name, which is too bad.

So check out Gary Valente - you won't be sorry.

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