Born in Bogota, Colombia I was exposed to music as a young child. My father and uncles were gifted musicians and had a band in Bogota. They were quite popular and performed regularly in clubs and private parties. I grew up in a home filled with music of all kinds including classical and music from Colombia.
In 1968, my dad took a job as a cartographer with the National Geographic Society and moved the family to Washington, D.C.I was 4. My uncles soon followed to study, work and raise families of their own. They formed a different band and throughout the 70’s and early 80’s played gigs on weekends and also recorded an LP, which in those days required a lot of effort. I would sometimes join my dad’s band on stage playing the guacharaca and later guitar, which I still play today.
I have so many fond memories of growing up in my rich Colombian culture here in the Washington, DC area; the food; the music; the fun; the language; the long drives home; falling a sleep along side my brother and my primos to the whispers of my tias gossiping about the day… Today when I hear a vallenato, or a cumbia, or a salsa, the memories come rushing back, and I am filled with pride.
In 1994, I transferred to Orange County, California to work as the marketing campaign manager for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that I worked with the National Symphony Orchestra in D.C., and before that, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Toronto, Canada. I took the job out west primarily because my primo, Juan Carlos Quintero, a well know Latin jazz recording artist, was living in L.A. This was when I really discovered Latin Jazz.
One of Juan Carlos’ earlier jobs in L.A. was as an artist relations rep for Latin Percussion so he would take me along to Latin Jazz concerts. A lot were concerts of icons like Mongo Santamaria, and Tito Puente. He would call me up and say, “yo, pree-to-the-mo-mo, so and so will not be around for ever so you better see him before he stops performing.” I wouldn’t need to be told twice. We would go and afterwards would often meet with them back stage. Later, Juan Carlos and I would talk for hours about the music and the performances.
Juan Carlos introduced me to many Latin Jazz performers and industry folks in L.A.Among them was radio DJ Alfredo Cruz then of KLON. Alfredo now a friend and currently CEO and president of station 89.3 KUVO in Denver, was then on air during the mornings in LA. Jose Rizo was another KLON DJ I met. Jose still hosts “Jazz On The Latin Side” on Friday and Saturday nights, which I rarely missed. Between Juan Carlos, Alfredo and Jose, I became a passionate student of Latin Jazz.
In 2004, my wife and I moved back to Washington, D.C.Though I’m no longer involved in the L.A. Latin Jazz scene these days, I still talk with my pree-to-the-mo-mo Juan Carlos regularly. I never stopped being a student of Latin Jazz. Going forward, I plan to share my thoughts on Latin Jazz music both as an American – Latino listener and as a novice musician. I’m into attending live performances and I’ll give my take on the “must see” talents of today. I hope you enjoy my posts.