Fascinated by the complex and mysterious religious nature of the rhythms of AfroCuban music, Abel Valentino has spent his life immersed in the study and performance of that dynamic, spiritual percussion. As a child growing up in a Puerto Rican household in Arizona, he delighted in the sounds of Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and Ismael Rivera as family and friends danced Salsa into the early morning hours.
A self taught percussionist, Abel began his professional career at the age of 14 with the Pete Robles Orchestra. His longstanding friendship with Tito Puente began in 1976 at the Casino Ballroom in Tucson, Arizona, when he was invited to perform with Puente's band. Over the years, Abel continued to be a guest performer with Tito Puente and his band, the final time being at Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona in 1998.
Abel has also been a guest performer with Larry Harlow and Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Poncho Sanchez, and Malo. His band, Abel Valentino & Salsation, opened for Tito Puente and has had guest performer Poncho Sanchez. He performed with the Brazilian band Zum Zum Zum for President Ronald Reagan during the Hispanic Heritage Awards in Washington, DC. He has participated in clinics with Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, Jeff Hamilton, and Steve Smith.
Although Abel plays various musical styles, including straight ahead jazz and Latin rock, his main focus is as a Salsa and Latin jazz timbalero. He is currently living in Phoenix, Arizona, playing with various salsa bands on the West Coast and working on a recording with his band, Abel Valentino & Salsation.