The Corner Soul
Victor Valente's New Life
saxophonist Victor Valente’s NEW LIFE, followup to his debut, OFF THE CANVAS. For those who had opportunity to hear that album, I cannot express enough that this is no sequel. Appropriately titled, OFF THE CANVAS played at times like a brief, Jazz Opera version of ROCKY, with all its’ grit and rough edges; a man fighting to bounce back, to conquer both love and the world, with the element of Valente’s Hip Hop-influenced past figuring prominently.
On NEW LIFE, Valente fashions a more polished landscape, without dispensing of the raw appeal that made OFF THE CANVAS an enjoyable listen. The artist is still evolving, but life experience has handed a greater sense of depth, of knowing. Few experiences change a person more than the birth of their first child, and Valente is no exception. This becomes obvious in the opening cut, “Nyjuan Lee” (named after his newborn son). Alone with his sax, outdoors, he could be busking, or just playing for his own pleasure. Regardless of the scenario, the mood is clear- joy.
The tone of his instrument is more contemplative and measured this time around, and as evidenced on cuts such as “Message From Heaven” and “To the Man Behind the Stars”, alternately mellow and charged. The album closer, “No One in This World”, sweetly veers toward the mellow, smoothly gliding off into the night (or day, depending on when you’re listening).
NEW LIFE features a more organic feel, largely through the participation of collaborator Peter Arteaga. It also has the same brevity that made OFF THE CANVAS compelling without straying into tedium. The result of all the effort involved is an enjoyable glimpse into the life of an artist who, as evidenced on NEW LIFE, has every reason to joyfully play on.
Markus @ www.planetsoul.com