A conservatory-trained classical musician, she began to expand into jazz improvisation and studies of traditional musics from all over the world 10 years into her classical performance career. Her musical interests reflect her family's mosaic heritage, including African-American traditional and popular styles, music of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and indigenous music of both North and South America. She specializes in Cuban charanga, Brazilian choro, Latin jazz and straight-ahead jazz, historically-informed performance practice, and performs on traditional Native American style flutes and Andean flutes.
Today, Dr. Valiente is known primarily as the musical director of Los Más Valientes, the salsa and Latin jazz ensemble that she has been directing since 1995. Together, she and her band have produced and released three CDs on the Laughing Buddha label, and one on the 706 Music label, all of which have received wide critical acclaim. She also performs on flute and piccolo with the Brazilian choro ensemble, Choro Down Neck, while staying in touch with her classical music roots, as flutist with the chamber ensemble Trio Non Sequitur, and as recorderist and baroque flutist with the Fieldstone Early Music Ensemble.
Dr. Valiente has performed at such world-class venues as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The National Cathedral, Brookhaven Amphiteater, Hostos Center for Culture and the Arts, The 92nd Street Y, The Gaillard Center, Baltimore Symphony Hall, The Hartford Jazz Festival, and many, many more. She has performed in master classes with James Galway, Robert Stallman, Bernard Goldberg, Patricia Spencer, Sergio Pallotelli, Nestor Torres, and Orlando "Maraca" Valle. She has had a long career as a private teacher, and has taught music at John Jay College, Baruch College, University of Bridgeport, New School University, Mercy College, Montclair State University. She has taught flute at Montclair State University and Brooklyn College and is currently on the flute faculty of The New School Jazz and Contemporary Music department.
Dr. Jessica Valiente holds a B.A. in music from Barnard College in conjunction with Manhattan School of Music, an M.A. in music performance from the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College, CUNY), and a D.M.A. in music performance from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is a 2014-2015 recipient of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation on charanga entitled: “Siento una Flauta: Improvisational Idiom, Style, and Performance Practice of Charanga Flutists in New Yorkfrom 1960 to 2000.”
Her debut in the Latin music scene came when she took over the flute chair in the conjunto of legendary mambo/pachanga-era bandleader, Orlando Marín, while also frequently performing with the critically-acclaimed bilingual Spanish/English theater company, Teatro Pregones. During these years, she also maintained her position in the world of early music (her first love), performing on recorders and renaissance flute with the internationally-renowned bilingual Italian/English commedia dell'arte troupe, I Giullari di Piazza.
Jessica Valiente, Flutist