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Val Valente dies months before farewell concert

Saxophonist Val Valente from the BoV 2011 calendar, Tribute to Maltese Musicians. Photo: Joe P. Smith

Saxophonist Val Valente from the BoV 2011 calendar, Tribute to Maltese Musicians. Photo: Joe P. Smith

Veteran musician Val Valente has passed away at the age of 74, just months before holding a concert to wrap up his musical career.

Mr Valente, who will be remembered mostly for his mastery of the saxophone, was born into a family of professional musicians and played nine different instruments.

He formed his first band more than 50 years ago and never looked back, performing alongside several musicians locally and abroad.

The seasoned musician remained popular even with the new generation of jazz musicians, and performed during A One Night Stand with the Big Band Brothers concert held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta in 2011.

For Big Band Brothers singer Daniel Cauchi, 26, “Val Valente was always one of the top”.

And it was in 2011 that he first told the band he would like to hold his last concert in aid of charity. It was meant to be held in October, with Mr Valente as the main artist accompanied by The Big Band Brothers.

Mr Valente had already set up an appointment with President George Abela as he wanted the concert to be held in aid of the Community Chest Fund.

Mr Cauchi, who last spoke to Mr Valente two weeks ago, said the band would still like to hold the concert in his memory.

The late saxophonist’s career dates back decades. In the 1950s he formed a new jazz quintet called The Freshmen with Tarcisio (Tossie) Tabone, pianist Frank Camilleri, bass player Nonny Almerigo and drummer Eric Xuereb.

And it was during the same time that saxophonist Sammy Murgo met Mr Valente.

Mr Murgo, now 76, was playing at a bar in Valletta, when the two men started talking about their common interests. Since then, they played the saxophone together on several occasions, including on boat functions around the islands.

He remembers the man as always ready for a laugh and never refusing to help anyone. “He was a very good man,” he recalled.

Percussionist Charles ‘City’ Gatt recalled how Mr Valente would gather musicians to form a band to accompany the carnival défilé in Freedom Square, something which over the years was replaced with booming recorded music.

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