Page 1

Carlos Alberto Valerín Lead Trumpet Player – Brass Musician and Arranger “Playing the trumpet is all about learning. To a musician, the whole world is a teacher. Some people will teach you what to do and others what not to do. The trick is to keep learning.”

Table of Contents Biography


Costa Rica: The Early Years 3 New York City




Costa Rica: The Return


Valerín: In His Own Words 23 Musical Philosophy




Musical Trajectory


Recording Credits


Notable Performances


Photo Gallery


Contact Information


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Valerín's Biography COSTA RICA: THE EARLY YEARS Valerín's early years and musical formation began in the small peaceful nation of Costa Rica. From an early age, Valerín began showing a penchant for music. His musical learning began in his hometown of Curridabat, under the tutelage of Maestro Epifanio Sánchez, lead clarinet player of the National Symphony Orchestra in Costa Rica. It was Maestro Epifanio's decision to call the young aspiring player solely by his paternal last name, thus Carlos Alberto would become known to everyone else in the music world as Valerín. He was only 10 years old. Trumpet After two years of general music theory, Valerín picked up the instrument that would become his lifetime love affair: the trumpet. He continued learning under Epifanio and would eventually secure a seat in the Curridabat Municipal Band at the age of 12. After a couple of years with the Band, Valerín ascended to lead trumpet. He was the youngest lead trumpet in the history of this Band. Conservatorio Castella After playing lead trumpet in the Curridabat Municipal Band, Valerín was invited to audition at the most prestigious educational institution for the musical arts in Costa Rica, the Conservatorio Castella in San José. Valerín was 14 years old when he auditioned and earned a full scholarship to study at the

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Conservatorio Castella. After just one school year, Valerín was selected to be one of the lead trumpet players for the Jazz-Rock Castella Band; a progressive musical ensemble that featured the school's top musical talent. The repertoire of Jazz-Rock Castella mostly consisted of jazz, rock, and pop standards arranged into innovative fusion pieces. Jazz-Rock Castella soon became an international success. In 1978 the band was invited by the Cuban government to play in the Festival Mundial de La Juventud y los Estudiantes (World's Youth Fair) in La Habana. Valerín was only 15 at the time. He met with Cuban jazz band Irakere and Grammy Award winners Los Van Van. Valerín was invited to attend a musical workshop with Irakere.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


While attending the workshop, Valerín made a special acquaintance. Cuban Jazz virtuoso Arturo Sandoval noticed that Valerín was as precocious as he had been at a young age and took a certain liking to him. Valerín received impromptu classes and advice from Arturo, and the two players would meet again a few years later in New York after Arturo Sandoval escaped the Castro regime during the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival. Back in Costa Rica following the success of Jazz-Rock Castella's presentation in Cuba, Valerín resumed his musical education with newfound confidence thanks to the teachings of Arturo Sandoval. His motivation and love for learning new methods of playing earned him a third and fourth trumpet spot in the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. Valerín was one of the youngest musicians to ever play in the National Symphony at the age of 16 and played about a dozen performances. National recognition arrived early for Valerín. He was given the opportunity to appear on national television when he played trumpet solos on “Las Estrellas Se Reúnen”, a popular variety show that played on Teletica, Costa Rica's oldest broadcast network. Audiences loved seeing Valerín play emotive Latin pop and salsa solos so much that he was invited back to the show to play again with different national acts such as Karibú and El Tren Latino. Thanks to these initial television appearances, Valerín secured his first professional gigs when the same bands he performed with on live television invited him to the recording studio. He also recorded with La Banda, Jaque Mate, Taboga Band. Valerín's time in the studio was well spent, as he also recorded audio jingles for Coca Cola, Colgate, Adoc, and many others. At the age of 17, Valerín was invited to be part of a classical music ensemble that performed on national television by Arnoldo Herrera, founder of the Conservatorio Castella. Mr. Herrera was the conductor of the carefully selected ensemble that performed classical

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


pieces live on Channel 13, the University of Costa Rica's national broadcast network. Fortunately for Valerín, his first full time job was in the field he loved. Having just graduated from Conservatorio Castella, he was hired as a teacher of Trumpet and Music Theory. Valerín was only 17 years old at the time. While teaching at his Alma Mater, Valerín would occasionally play gigs with national acts. In 1980 he was invited by salsa band Karibú to join them on their first tour of the United States. Valerín agreed and was soon performing gigs in New York and New Jersey. It was during that time that Valerín met with the director of New York salsa band Los Grandes de Colombia. Valerín accepted the lead trumpet spot and began to play in the New York nightclub circuit.

NEW YORK CITY Upon arrival in New York City, Valerín realized that his musical education was just getting started. In New York, he took classes with the extraordinary Master Brass Teacher Carmine Caruso. Under Caruso, Valerín learned the important mechanics of embouchure and the psychology of the instrument. He also took private lessons with Vincent Panzerella, lead trumpet player in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. During his early days in the Big Apple, Valerín had still not made up his mind about what musical genre he would adopt and specialize in. He was concerned with classical training, but he also enjoyed the complex phrasing of jazz. And then there were the rhythmic brass arrangements of salsa and other popular Latin music. A chance encounter in a New York subway train forever changed Valerín's musical philosophy and helped shape his individual sound. In a summer afternoon in the mid 1980s, Valerín was riding the number 7 train from Queens to Manhattan. Valerín just happened to be carrying his trumpet case when another subway rider introduced himself as a trumpet player from Panama. The two

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


players casually chatted for a bit about some of their experiences as expatriates from Central American countries in New York. When the train came up to the stop for the Panamanian gentleman, he offered Valerín his business card as he was exiting the train. Valerín could not believe his eyes as he read the business card and realized that he had just met the legendary Victor “Vitín” Paz. Valerín had heard many stories about the trumpet player from Panama who had made it big in New York and who had played alongside many jazz greats such as Frank Sinatra, Dizzie Gillespie, Tony Bennett, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Valerín called him the very next day to pay his respects and ask the great one for advice. He even boldly asked Vitín if he was interested in making some money on the side by giving Valerín some lessons. Vitín did not say yes or no at the moment, he simply told Valerín to drop by his

“Vitín taught me what every trumpet player in salsa and latin bands should know: that rhythm is everything. It comes from within, but it most be learned, lived, and continuously practiced.”

apartment that afternoon. Valerín did not really know what to expect and was actually very concerned about just how much lessons from Vitín would cost him as he arrived at the Manhattan apartment. But he knew that this was too great of a learning opportunity to pass up. And he was definitely not prepared by what happened when he tried to unpack his trumpet from its case in Vitín's studio: “What do you think you're doing?!” screamed Vitín. “Who said that you could come to my house and simply take your horn out!? Boy, you have a lot to learn! Put the trumpet away, kid. Sit down, listen and learn”. And so Valerín's trumpet lessons with Vitín began. It would take several weeks before Valerín was allowed to even unpack his trumpet. The classes were unorthodox to say the least. Vitín is a walking compendium of life lessons, and he took his time teaching Valerín about respect, decorum, musicianship, and life in general. He even taught Valerín about the importance of speech patterns for jazz and salsa musicians. Valerín spoke in the typical Costa Rican Spanish vernacular:

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


measured with a slight singsong, using the respectful second form of address, and projected with just enough octaves to not call attention to oneself. This was simply not acceptable to Vitín, and so this was one of the first things Valerín had to learn: how to speak Spanish with the accent and diction of the New York salsa musicians who came from the Caribbean regions of Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. The subject of paying for lessons never came up again. Valerín and Vitín hit it off from the start and would begin a respectful mentor-disciple relationship that would last for years. Under Vitín's tutelage, Valerín's signature sound began to develop. It was then that Valerín learned to love playing salsa and Latin jazz arrangements. These days Vitín and Valerín are back in their respective homelands and are still in touch with each other. Aside from Vitíns valuable life lessons, Valerín continued his formal musical education in New York at the Queens College School of Music, the Johnny Colón School and the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Harlem. Valerín developed a greater interest for jazz around this time and joined various ensembles in New York.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Part of the educational program that Vitín Paz had in mind for young Valerín was handson musical performance. Vitín arranged a meeting between Valerín and the legendary Cuban mambo and Latin jazz legend Machito (Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo). Valerín was more than honored to play a few gigs with Machito y su Orquesta in Manhattan. After all, Machito had played with the great Xavier Cugat and his style was greatly respected by Dizzy Gillespie. Jazz connoisseurs often agree that Machito's 1943 piece “Tanga” is the first Latin jazz composition ever recorder. Valerín was naturally flabbergasted at the thought of playing with Machito at such an early stage of his career, but Vitín quickly set him straight with one question: “Why did you even come to New York in the first place?”. Vitín was right and Valerín measured up to the challenge. It was after this golden opportunity that Valerín fully began his musical career in the salsa world. At the age of 20, Valerín became a session trumpet player for many salsa and Latin jazz bands in the New York area, including: Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Johnny Ray's Salsa con Clase, Louie Ramirez and Ray de la Paz, Louie Cruz y su Orquesta, Adalberto Santiago, La Sonora New York, Los Hermanos Lebrón, Johny Colón y su Orquesta, and others. While playing with

“My ambition was to play with great musicians. At the time, New York City was an international playground for incredibly talented salsa and jazz musicians. I wanted to play at that level.”

Johny Colón, Valerín was invited to play on the film set of the movie Crossover Dreams starring Rubén Blades and Elizabeth Peña. Valerín played the part of a trumpet player as a band performed live during a dance sequence. Ruben Blades was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 1986 for his performance in Crossover Dreams. The film was directed by Leon Ichaso who would go on to direct Hector Lavoe's biopic El Cantante, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. From 20 to 24 years of age, Valerín enjoyed being part of a musical Renaissance in New York. Just a decade earlier Johny Pacheco and other musicians had essentially brought Cuban sounds to New York and redefined what is now known as salsa music. Years later

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Hector Lavoe was a legend, the albums “Siembra” by Ruben Blades and “Aquí No Se Sienta Nadie” by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico had topped the charts in many countries. Tito Puente was selling out at international jazz venues and earning his first Grammy Award. Valerín was fortunate to be an active participant of this movement when he was invited to play at the Village Gate Club in Manhattan. Monday nights at the Village Gate were “Salsa Meets Jazz” nights, and Valerín was invited to play by Adalberto Santiago of Fania All Stars. This was a great opportunity for Valerín since he had the honor to meet and play second trumpet with many salsa and jazz greats such as Winton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Alberto Santiago, Ray Barrero, and Hector Lavoe.

It was here that Valerín first met Ray Maldonado, who would become a great friend and

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


mentor. Ray had also learned under Carmine Caruso and had developed a unique and highly sought after signature sound that could be heard on many recordings, from Mongo Santamaría's albums to Lionel Hampton, and from Fania All Stars to Stevie Wonder. Valerín would sadly see his good friend pass away in 1982, but he carries Ray's teachings and commitment to performance to this very day. Valerín continued to be a staple among journeymen salsa and Latin jazz musicians until the age of 28. In 1984, Valerín became an in-house studio musician at the legendary La Tierra Sound Studios in Manhattan. This was the same studio where Ruben Blades had recorded his groundbreaking album “Siembra” a few years earlier. Siembra went on to become one of the best selling salsa albums of all time. It was here that Valerín would record many sessions for several salsa, cumbia, and Latin jazz bands such as the Conjunto Barroco, La Sonora Nueva Yorcka, Alkimia, and others. Valerín enjoyed his time at La Tierra Sound Studios immensely due to the chance it gave him to perform next to salsa musicians of great caliber, like Tony Borrero, Reynaldo Jorge, and Eddie Servigon of Fania All Stars fame. It was here that Valerín learned a great deal of tips and studio tricks from respected recording engineer Jon Fausty (famous for being the preferred engineer of Fania All Stars, Johnny Pacheco, Eddie Palmieri, and others). In the early 1990s, Valerín continued his career as a journeyman trumpet player and studio musician at La Tierra Sound Studios. His touring scheduled intensified as he would go on concert tours with different acts to several US cities like San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago; and to international destinations such as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. By then New York had ceased to be the international capital of salsa as new musicians from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Los Angeles, and Miami were beginning to make a name for themselves. This was particularly true for Miami and Miami Beach. After a turbulent decade of drug violence and political upheaval in the 1980s, Miami quickly recovered in the 1990s and

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


became a truly cosmopolitan city with a distinct Latin flavor. The salsa music scene was burgeoning with Cuban legend Celia Cruz at the forefront as the undisputed Queen of Salsa and the Miami Sound Machine crossing over into the lucrative pop music market. Salsa lovers from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and other Latin American countries were relocating to Miami to do business and start new lives. Valerín saw that Miami was ripe with new and fresh opportunities for salsa musicians and made the decision to relocate with his family to South Florida.

MIAMI Upon his arrival in Miami, Valerín seriously thought about formalizing his musical education and earning a degree. After all, he had a strong musical foundation and had earned many college credits, not to mention the invaluable life lessons learned under Maestro Vitín Paz. As Valerín was settling in Miami with his new family, he enrolled at Briarcliffe College, an institution that allowed him to transfer his college credits and which also evaluated his musical experience prior to admission in the Music Education program. Valerín enjoyed the flexibility that Briarcliffe offered him as he performed with different groups while trying to find his place in the Miami salsa scene. Valerín would ultimately earn his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from Briarcliffe College in 1993, shortly before the school closed its doors. In 1994 Valerín was called to be a member of Orquesta Inmensidad. This band had the distinction of being Celia Cruz' house band whenever she performed in Miami. Playing with the Queen of Salsa was another milestone in Valerín's career as a musician. Celia Cruz was Miami's most beloved musical performer. Each performance by Celia in Miami was sold out. And as the guest of honor at the annual Calle Ocho festival, Celia Cruz and Orquesta Inmensidad would bring the house down right from a street stage in the Little

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Havana neighborhood in Miami. This would be the final performance of the worldrenowned festival, and it was always a scorching performance that rocked the entire city of Miami. Valerín had the honor of playing with Celia Cruz at the Calle Ocho festival from 1995 until her sadly passed away in 2003. Although Orquesta Inmensidad continued to play at the Calle Ocho festival until 2008, it was never the same without Her Majesty of Salsa Celia Cruz.

“I could not believe my luck when I was selected to play in the group that Celia Cruz chose to be her Miami house band. She lived and breathed salsa and had a truly magical connection with her audience. She was a true Queen, yet she was very humble. We all deeply miss her”.

While still playing with Orquesta Inmensidad, Valerín gained another significant milestone

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


in his career. In 2005 he recorded the album “Un Nuevo Amanecer”, which will forever be remembered as the last album recorded under the original Fania Records imprint. Since that day, Fania has switched to a new catalog and has kept the original one as legacy. Johnny Pacheco's “Cañonazo” was the first Fania long-play recording under catalog number 325 in 1964, and Orquesta Inmensidad's “Un Nuevo Amanecer” was the last compact disc recording, number 818. Both Fania releases are now highly sought after by music collectors. Just as Valerín was finding his rhythm and his place among the Latin music scene in Miami, the opportunity he was always waiting for suddenly arrived. The University of Miami Latin Jazz Ensemble called upon Valerín to join them for a few performances. By this time, Valerín's trumpet skills had matured and caught the attention of Adjunct Professor and accomplished brass performer Whitney Sidener. After one of the performances, Mr. Sidener invited Valerín to audition for a full graduate scholarship in the Classical Music Department, with an opportunity. Valerín promptly accepted since even though he had found his groove as a salsa and Latin jazz trumpet player, his early musical formation was in the classical genre. Besides, Mr. Sidener also reminded Valerín about the many other opportunities available at the University of Miami for music graduates. Mr. Gilbert Johnson of the Philadelphia Philharmonic conducted the audition. A week later, Valerín was accepted by the University of Miami with a full scholarship. Valerín was naturally ecstatic when he learned about the full scholarship offer, and then he remembered an important thing Mr. Sidener had mentioned regarding the graduate program: it required a serious, full-time commitment. This was not going to be anything like the Musical Education at Briarcliffe College, where Valerín was able to play gigs and earn credits on his own time. This was especially true for Valerín since he had hoped to become a faculty member at UM.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


At this time in Valerín's life, he was forced to make a hard decision. He was raising a young family that included three minor children. Valerín remembered one of the most important aspects of moving to South Florida in the early 1990s; he chose a better place to raise a family. He was also fortunate to have found employment opportunities as a musician that did not take him on long tours in distant places. His various gigs in Miami paid the bills, brought food to the table, and allowed him to enjoy ample time with his family. Had Valerín accepted the scholarship offer at the University of Miami, he would have had to commit himself full-time to the program and still manage to financially support his family. This was a dealbreaker for Valerín and he sadly declined the offer from the University of Miami. To help himself in taking this choice, he remembered Vitín's teachings on the subject of family: it always comes first. After making such a difficult but appropriate decision, Valerín continued to make a name for himself in the Miami music scene. Due to the rising popularity of Latin music in South Florida, Valerín played with various local and visiting musical acts in Miami. He was a trumpet for hire for Latin jazz musicians Nestor Torres and Melton Mustafa. He also played with salsa acts Cali Aleman, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, and Oro Solido.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Valerín played live on two television shows produced and filmed in Miami. He was a television studio musician for Sábado Gigante, the longest running variety TV show in the world. He also appeared on El Escándalo del Mediodía with Charytín, a famous singer and actress from the Dominican Republic who was also very active in the entertainment news media. While in Miami, Valerín also sought to expand his musical range by performing with groups that played genres other than salsa and Latin jazz. He played with the System Band, a wildly popular group from Port Au Prince that since 1980 has been heralding the Compas sound, the national music of Haiti. Valerín also preformed with Ever So Klever, a young swing and rockabilly band based in South Florida with whom Valerín played lead trumpet and accompanied on tour to various cities in the United States. With a musical career spanning over

“Although I've learned to love Latin jazz and salsa over the years, performing with groups that play different genres and styles has been an enlightening experience and has helped me expand my musical range”.

thirty years, Valerín began to think very seriously about something that Vitín had solemnly mentioned to him many years ago in New York: “If you don't find success in your own land, you'll never find it anywhere else”. In 2009 Valerín felt that it was time to reconnect with his roots. He also thought that it would be a good idea to foster musical education for young students in his own country. Valerín returned to Costa Rica, where it all had started.

COSTA RICA: THE RETURN Coming back home after so many years of playing abroad has been nothing less than a humbling experience for Valerín. He immediately sought to reconnect with musicians he had known and played with in his youth. To his surprise, his name is often mentioned in musical circles as the “musical prodigy who made a name for himself abroad”. The news

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


about his return traveled fast, and he was soon invited to jam sessions and performances. Valerín did not waste time in getting started with his main reason for coming back home. He has been reviewing and analyzing different trumpet methods that for some reason are not known or taught in Costa Rica.

“Maestro Vitín always mentioned that a musician should always look to his or her homeland in order to find the true meaning of success. Finding success abroad is often easier than at home, yet it is in your own country where success tastes sweeter”.

He has taken on students of brass and has given them free lessons, just like Vitín Paz had done long ago. Valerín sees this as a way of giving back to the community, another tenet of Vitín's teachings. Valerín has also been performing and working on different exciting projects. He is a founding member of Orquesta Excelencia, an innovative salsa band that plays Christian themes. Valerín is familiar with the uplifting quality of salsa when it is applied to spiritual themes. He has studied the success of Dominican superstar Juan Luis Guerra and how he has allowed his devotion to Christianity guide his musical career. Valerín has observed the same devotion in the young musicians that make up Orquesta Excelencia and encouraged them to be driven by their faith as they worked on putting the band together. Due to his particular standing in the Costa Rican salsa scene, Valerín was also able to bring in a few veteran players to round up the rhythm section. The debut of the band took place just days after Costa Rica celebrated one more year of independence, peace, and democracy. The venue was the Children's Museum, a national institution that is housed inside an old military fort dating back to the days before the Army was permanently abolished in Costa Rica. Against this backdrop of peace, Orquesta Excelencia played its 100% original salsa themes arranged by Valerín before an audience that included several members of the press. After their debut performance, Orquesta Excelencia garnered several accolades. Not only is the band the first in Costa Rica to dedicate themselves to Christan salsa music, but

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


thanks to Valerín's leadership they have achieved a unique sound that has tinges of the old guard “salsa dura” and splashes of Latin jazz. Things look promising for Orquesta Excelencia as they will soon begin touring churches and music festivals to keep spreading their positive message. They also expect to enter the studio to record their first CD which will feature Valerín's production, arrangements, and direction.

Another exciting project that Valerín is currently working on involves popular music. Valerín has been approached by singer-songwriter Tamela Hedstrom, a beautiful and

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


talented Costa Rican artist who just like Valerín made a name for herself abroad and has decided to return to her homeland to develop the local success that Vitín Paz taught Valerín about. Tamela spent her teenage years in Sweden, where she was one of the runner ups in the Swedish version of the “American Idol” television show. Back in her native Costa Rica, Tamela has already performed as the opening act for Puerto Rican heartthrob singer Chayanne. She has recorded new hit singles and videos that have seen considerable airplay on the TeleHit music video cable network. Her strong stage presence and vocal delivery have already drawn comparisons to pop superstar Shakira. She's also the current lead singer of Soul2Flow, an innovative band that mixes soul and electronic music. She has been approached by American producer Michael Sembello (famous for his hit song “Maniac”, featured in the classic film Flashdance) to work on the Miami-based project Bossa Soul, a modern blend of Brazilian Bossa Nova, funk and soul music.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Tamela was looking for someone to help her add more Latin flavor to some of her new compositions. She called on local musicians who immediately urged her to contact Valerín. After just one meeting, Tamela was convinced that Valerín was perfect for her project. Tamela is currently working on producing new singles which will feature Valerín on trumpet when she returns to the studio. This will be an exciting collaboration for Valerín since it will be his first time working alongside a singer-songwriter who thrives on the fusion of different genres and who has the potential to become a famous pop diva. Valerín has reconnected with the local music scene in Costa Rica and has already played with local sensation Ramses Araya and his traveling salsa act Timbaleo. Ramses is an accomplished percussionist who has recorded with Ruben Blades. His group Timbaleo is known for its complex arrangements and demanding driving beat. Ramses often calls on Valerín to lead his trumpet section. Valerín has also played with Opa Opa, a salsa band from Los Angeles that often includes Costa Rica as a tour destination. In addition to his live performances, Valerín is once again a studio trumpet for hire. He is one of the inhouse studio musicians at SoloHits Recording Studios, a new state-of-the-art studio in San Jose, Costa Rica that was handpicked by Tamela Hedstrom for her next project. One of the most cherished projects Valerín is currently involved in is the reunion of Karibú, the salsa band that took Valerín to New York in the early 1980s. Karibú is wellknown in Costa Rica for having been one of the first bands to introduce salsa to Costa Rican audiences. After their New York tour, Karibú returned home to increased popularity. The band went through some changes over the years until it practically disbanded in the mid 1990s. When Valerín returned home and reconnected with his former bandmates in Karibú, a great idea was formed: Karibú would celebrate the return of its most successful band member with a grand reunion. When the idea was first conceived, it was meant to be a somewhat intimate affair between old band members and old fans who enjoyed Karibú's music during salsa's old guard days in Costa Rica. Due to a

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


renewed interest in salsa music in Costa Rica, Karibú's reunion has taken on a different dimension. New and old fans have strongly supported the band's reunion and the two scheduled concert dates sold out even before tickets became available. Valerín and the rest of the band members were really flattered by the response and are now working very hard to keep Karibú fans happy. The band is now studying the possibility of embarking on a national comeback tour and going into the

“None of my bandmates in Karibú imagined that the reunion would go so well. We initially thought of it as just a bunch of old guys getting together to play a few salsa numbers. But the interest and the response from the fans has been astonishing”.

studio to record a new album. The national entertainment media certainly added to the attention as they were present during the band's rehearsals and retold the story of the international tour that took Valerín to the Big Apple. Valerín took the lead on this reunion project as musical director and even wrote a new intro theme that defines the band's new sound after so many years.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


The most ambitious project Valerín is currently involved is decidedly in line with his desire to give back to the musical community. Valerín has been approached by the manager of a national salsa band who shares a common vision of enhancing Costa Rica's standing in the world of Latin jazz. Although Valerín and a handful of talented musicians have enjoyed success abroad, local acts have not been able to travel overseas and put the country in the musical map. To this extent, Valerín has made an effort to strengthen the network of national musicians by taking advantages of various online social media outlets. Thanks to this effort, Valerín has been in contact with other musicians who support his idea of a Latin jazz ensemble that can satisfy the local fans' hunger for live performances and that can also serve as a platform for young musicians to practice and showcase their talent. Valerín is confident that with the right instrumentation and a nice pool of musical talent to choose from, a solid national Latin jazz ensemble can be formed. And with all the industry connections that Valerín has made over the years, the ensemble could quickly gain notoriety and earn invitations to play at international music festivals. Valerín is busy talking to key figures in the state-sponsored cultural and arts programs, and there seems to be an interest in supporting a Latin jazz ensemble. The idea is to attract both musicians and music lovers to support the project. Although this is Valerín's personal pet project, it is based on inspiration. Like in many other aspects of Valerín's life, the idea was inspired by Maestro Vitín Paz who upon returning to his native Panama set out to form a jazz orchestra in the style of the Big Bands of yesteryear. Vitín thought it was very important for young musicians to be able to listen to the music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey; and to also have a chance to play with a solid ensemble. Valerín wants to advance the musical education opportunities of young students and aspiring musicians in Costa Rica by offering them an outlet through the Latin jazz ensemble. The idea is to have a place for both veteran and beginner musicians to come together and share their musical spirit.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Valerín: In His Own Words MUSICAL PHILOSOPHY “While a few trumpet players can rightly consider themselves artists, the truth is that playing the trumpet is a lot like craftsmanship: there are multiple levels of technique, expertise, and mastery.

A trumpet player cannot be too concerned about achieving

mastery. What should always be present in a trumpet player's mind is that learning and practicing are among the most important aspects of a musician's life. A musician should always be prepared to learn and be receptive to new methods. It's all about knowing what to practice, and not just how much you practice. Once a musician has taken the time to learn and has found the right method, that musician can practice for just a couple of hours a day with confidence”. “When it comes to practicing, it is very important to practice everything. Some musicians get stuck on practicing scales only. Breathing and air control are essential and should be incorporated on every practice session.

The fact is that the better you control your

breathing, the better the trumpet will sound. And guess what: your breathing and air control will determine how well you can keep up with the rhythm”. “And while we're still on the subject of practicing: practice does not make perfect, only God does that. So I still practice everyday. It's not that I want to become better than anyone else. It's just that I want to better myself. After all it was the great Miles Davis who once said: Practicing is like praying; you just don't pray once a week”. “Trumpet players in salsa and Latin jazz bands should always be mindful of keeping proper rhythmic patterns. Maestro Vitín Paz explained to me that rhythm is everything. We all have an innate sense of rhythm, Vitín said, but it still needs to be learned and built upon

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


with countless hours of practice. Some lead trumpet players who only wait around to belt out a killer solo may soon forget about the rhythmic variations and syncopation of salsa and Latin jazz. While it might be very cool for a lead trumpet to float above the ensemble like Coltrane during a solo, the truth is that you still have to find the rhythm and sync of the band once the final phrase of the solo is complete”. “Along with a good sense of rhythm, long tones will always be the bread and butter of performance for brass musicians playing in salsa and Latin jazz bands. Those two are the basics. Scales and arpeggios are patterns that will simply not work without rhythm and long tones”. “During the heyday of salsa and Latin jazz in New York, there seemed to be a particular hunger for rapid fire phrasing and high notes, and many trumpet players sought to satisfy that hunger. The truth is that it does not matter just how fast or how many notes you can get out of your trumpet. What really matters is how many notes you feel you can get out of your instrument in the correct phrasing. A trumpet player who is a glutton for high notes is like a one-trick pony. Over the years I've seen many trumpet players who only focus on high notes end up going nowhere. Maynard Ferguson once told me the following about high notes: you can be a screamer, hitting high note upon high note, but if the notes aren't sung out they just don't sound the same.

That's why musical formation should be

intellectual and rhythmic above all. While high notes have a special place in salsa and Latin jazz, they sound better coming from a trumpet player who has a proper sense of rhythm and phrasing”.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


INFLUENCES Maestro Victor “Vitín” Paz “Along with salsa superstar Ruben Blades, Vitín Paz is one of the most accomplished musicians from Panama. As one of the pillars of the Latin jazz community, he is well-respected by trumpet players around the world. While residing in New York City during the Golden Age of salsa, Vitín played with some of the best known music artists in the world: Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, The Temptations, James Brown, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, and more”. “To this very day, I sometimes cannot believe that Vitín was my mentor and teacher in New York. The man is incredibly talented and complex. He is a veteran of the Newport Jazz Festival and even toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie. Even with such greatness, Vitín is one of the most humble and nicest persons anyone could come across. I owe him my entire musical career”. Ray Maldonado “Maestro Vitín often mentioned that he did not believe that anyone is simply born with amazing musical gifts; he rather believed that musical talent must be properly cultivated and developed. But Ray Maldonado seemed to have lived just to prove him wrong. When he was just a little boy Ray was given a set of bongos and by the age of eleven he was mastering various percussion instruments as well as the trumpet. Like me, he trained under Carmine Caruso in New York, but he took away a lot more from him that I did. In his early 20s Ray left New York for the West Coast to play in Mongo

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Santamaría's band. Playing with Mongo led to many more gigs with Stevie Wonder, Fania All Stars, Hector Lavoe, Lionel Hampton, Eddie Palmieri, and many more. Ray's sound was very special: it was bigger than life. When he tragically passed away at an early age, he broke the hearts of many musicians in New York. Ray was not only my mentor and fellow trumpet player in many recordings, he was also a dear friend”. Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo (“Machito”) “Machito was not a trumpet player and in fact he seldom picked up any instruments other than his trademark maracas. Still, Machito was an amazing performer and the best band leader or musical director any musician could ever hope to play for. While music historians constantly argue about which one of the Titos (Tito Puente or Tito Rodriguez) was the true pioneer of Latin jazz, it was Dizzy Gillespie who credited Machito's arrangements as the foundations of Latin jazz.

When Maestro Vitín

arranged for me to play with Machito's band in New York, I was really nervous. Machito immediately put me at ease with his tactful skills as a bandleader. The man was a musical whirlwind; and just like fellow Cuban artist Celia Cruz, Machito simply lived to perform. Once onstage, Machito managed to keep the entire band in sync through his complex arrangements simply by shaking his maracas. Machito was very fond of his brass section, and he would often walk away from his front spot behind the microphone to check on his brass and reed players.

It's not like he needed the

microphone after all, whenever he walked away from it just he raised his voice a few octaves above the instruments. He was such a passionate and dedicated musician that he eventually died onstage at the age of 74 while performing live in London. Playing with Machito has been one of the greatest honors in my musical career”.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Luis Aquino “Being a great musician is not just about popularity, talent, or skill.

A great musician must also have a certain degree of

professionalism, known in the business as good musicianship. Puerto Rican Luis Aquino is not only a talented trumpet player, he also brings a great sense of pride and decorum to the profession. Like Ray Maldonado, Luis' musical love affair began with the bongos. He was playing trumpet by the age of eleven and then studied at the University of Miami under Whit Sidener and Gilbert Johnson. Since then Luis has played with many famous recording artists, including Alejandro Sanz, Chayanne, Elvis Crespo, Franco De Vita, Frankie Ruiz, Joe Arroyo, Juan Luis Guerra, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Willy Chirino, and Yanni. Like me, Luis has also played with Celia Cruz and Richie Ray.” “What sets Luis apart as a trumpet player is his careful approach to music. On Ricky Martin's 1998 album Vuelve, you can hear Luis' big sound as a precursor to Ricky Martin's wildly successful English crossover album released in 1999”. “Trumpet players can follow Luis Aquino's career thanks to his clever use of the social media networks. By reading his insightful blog posts, a trumpet player can realize that Luis is a musician's musician. Luis is a technician when it comes to playing the trumpet: everything is carefully planned from the embouchure to the notes register, and from breathing control to choosing the right instrument”.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


MUSICAL TRAJECTORY Costa Rica: The Early Years Band/Artist

Tour Cities

National Symphonic Orchestra of Costa Rica Jazz Rock Castella

Panama City and Havana

Brillanticos La Banda Jaque Mate Sonora X Lucho Muñoz

Santiago, Chile

Hernán Sanchez y su Orquesta Alvaro Morales y su Orquesta Karibú

New York City

New York City Band/Artist

Tour Cities

Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez Adalberto Santiago Victor “Vitín” Paz Louis Cruz y su Orquesta

La Paz and Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Johnny and Ray's Orchestra (Salsa con Clase)

Los Angeles, Medellín, Lima

Machito y su Orquesta Sonora New Yorcka Los Hermanos Lebrón Alfredo “Chocolate”Armenteros Orlando Contreras


Luis Cruz y su Orquesta

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Paco Franco

Quito, Ecuador

Los Chéveres de Colombia Melcochita


Gustavo “EL Loco” Quintero Orquesta Dinamita Conjunto Barroco

Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco

Los Grandes de Colombia Tren Latino Junior Gonzalez Johnny Colón Queens Brass Ensemble

Miami Band/Artist

Tour Cities

Celia Cruz Lalo Rodriguez Hector Tricoche Victor Manuel Tito Nieves Franky Negrón Henry Fiol Tito Puente Jr. Gabino Pampini

New York

Orquesta Macambila

Barranquilla and Cartagena, Colombia

Orquesta Inmensidad Johnny Ventura

Houston, Phoenix, Chicago

The System Band Tony Tatis y su Merengue Sound

San Jose, Costa Rica

Niche y sus Estrellas Los Niches

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Las Estrellas de Willie Rosario Hanibal Lopez y La Unica


Orlando Marín Alquimia

Phoenix, Houston, Chicago

José Bello y su Orquesta Louie Ramirez y Ray de la Paz Nelson Enriquez

Phoenix, Houston, Chicago

Pastor López

Phoenix, Houston, Chicago

Julio Flores y su Orquesta Tony Vega

San José, Costa Rica

Néstor Torres Oro Sólido Melina Almodovar


Cali Alemán Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz (Sonido Bestial)


Ismael Miranda Ever So Klever

Mobile, Alabama

Milton Mustafa's Jazz Orchestra University of Miami Latin Jazz Orchestra

Costa Rica: The Return (and current projects) Band/Artist

Tour Cities

Orquesta Excelencia Timbaleo Ramsés Araya Opa Opa

Los Angeles

Tamela Hedstrom Solo Hits Recording Studio (In-house Studio Musician) Karibú (Reunion)

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Recording Credits Conjunto Barroco •

“A Guarachar”, 1983

“No Vale La Pena”, 1983

“Te Digo Adiós”, 1984

“El Sonero del Barrio”, 1985 – This song has become emblematic of Conjunto Barroco's early years in New York City. “El Sonero del Barrio” appears in many salsa compilations that feature music from what is considered the Golden Age of Salsa, such as the classic three-volume Salsa Barriopinta vinyl LP collection.

Crossover Dreams (1985 film score) •

When Cuban-born filmmaker León Ichaso set out to document the burgeoning salsa scene in New York in the midst of its Golden Age, he called on Johnny Colón's Orchestra to play a crucial scene in which the main character (played by international salsa superstar Rubén Blades) dances with his beautiful costar played by Elizabeth Peña while the band plays a variation of “Todos Vuelven”, a classic guagancó theme that is repeated a few times in the film. León Ichaso would revisit the historical focus of Crossover Dreams years later with El Cantante, a biopic starring yet another salsa superstar (Marc Anthony) playing the legendary Hector Lavoe.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Valerín has a cameo appearance in the film as a member of the brass section in Johnny Colón's Orchestra.

Many film critics consider Crossover Dreams an

important film in the sense that it captures the spirit of the Golden Age of Salsa in the Big Apple. Sonora New Yorcka – Transit Authority (1983 Loma Records) This album is the prized possession of a few lucky

salsa and Latin jazz connoisseurs and record collectors.

Produced by Rudy Houston and

featuring the talented Loui Cruz on congas, Transit Authority was recorded at a time when the different sounds that originally made up New York salsa (guagancó,






beginning to merge and shape themselves into a new and unique sound. Orquesta La Inmensidad – Un Nuevo Amanecer (2005, Sello Fania 818) •

This is yet another album that salsa and Latin jazz collectors routinely fight over. Although it wasn't released exclusively on vinyl, Un Nuevo Amanecer has the distinction of being the last album released on the legendary Fania Records before they switched to a different catalog format. At the time the album was recorded, Orquesta La Inmensidad was practically still in mourning over

the death of the Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz. For more than five years, the band had accompanied Celia Cruz whenever she visited her beloved Miami. In this album, the

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


band is shaping a new sound influenced by their loyal service to Celia over so many years. This album would also mark the last time all the Miami musicians who played with Celia Cruz got together to record.

Memorable Performances Event /Occasion



Spanish Royal Family visit to Costa Rica Conservatorio Castella


Puerto Rico's Concert for Children with Machito y su Orquesta Special Needs


Puerto Rican Day Parade, New York City Machito y su Orquesta, Johnny and 1984 to 1988 Ray's Salsa con Clase, Johnny Colón y su Orquesta. Colombian Unity Festival

Conjunto Barroco, Nelson Quintero

1982 to 1985, 1998, and 2007

Dominican Festival

Johnny and Ray's Salsa con Clase

1989 to 1990

Miami's Calle Ocho Festival

Celia Cruz Inmensidad

The Copacabana, New York City

Johnny and Ray's Salsa con Clase , 1991 Loui Ramirez and Ray de la Paz' Noche Caliente

The Palladium, New York City

Johnny and Ray's Salsa con Clase



La 1995 to 2008


El Congo de Oro Festival, Barranquilla Orquesta Macambila Colombia**


Bayfest Mobile, Alabama


Ever So Klever

** Orquesta Macambila took the first place in this international salsa competition which attracted artists such as Joe Arroyo, Oscar D'Leon, Irakere, and others. Macambila's winning song, “Una Dos y Tres” was recorded in Miami a few weeks prior to the festival.

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto Valerín (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Picture Gallery

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Contact ValerĂ­n:

On facebook: e-mail:

Biography and Media Kit Carlos Alberto ValerĂ­n (C) Copyright (2010) All Rights Reserved


Media Kit  

My biography and musical career

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you