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 York from 1960 to 2000.”
A conservatory-trained classical musician, she began to expand into jazz improvisation and studies of traditional musics from all over the world about 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 Afro-Cuban and other Latin styles, Brazilian choro, straight-ahead jazz, early music, and performs on traditional Native American style courtship flutes and the Andean quena as a soloist.
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.