Gilbert Castellanos with jazz legend Curtis Fuller.
When the management from the Westgate Hotel approached San Diego trumpet master Gilbert Castellanos about doing a weekly concert series after a one-off performance on the rooftop, the always busy musician needed to think about it.
Castellanos is already teaching at USC and the Colburn School in Los Angeles, he does weekly gigs at El Camino and Croce's, he mentors eight dedicated private students and he participates in recording sessions for pop stars like Leon Russell and Celine Dion.
"But I checked my schedule, and lo and behold, I didn't have anything scheduled for Fridays for the rest of the year," Castellanos said. Even still, "I didn't call her back right away. I needed a concept, I didn't want it to be a gig like anything I'm already doing."
Castellanos found his answer on his iPod, of all places.
"I came across an old Ray Brown record called Some Of My Best Friends Are Piano Players and I thought this is perfect-- I'll call it that and feature a different piano player every week."
The series, which is booked into February of next year, already has commitments from 11 world-class pianists. The format will feature Castellanos on trumpet with a guest pianist and a bassist of their choice.
The trumpeter's maiden gig went off last week with a performance by L.A. pianist Josh Nelson and bassist Hamilton Price. Price will be on hand at the Westgate Hotel on Oct. 12 with San Diego legend Mike Wofford. Here are the rest of the scheduled shows:
Bass players for the last three concerts are to be announced.
"For me, it's like an adventure," said Castellanos. "Not only do I get to play in a different format -- you know, a trio -- but I also get to play all kinds of different music. I'm leaving 90% of those decisions up to the piano players. To me it's just a special night because people don't see me in that element. My goal is to play as delicate to the point where I can have a beautiful lady sitting right in front of me and have her not be bothered by my horn."
The trumpeter is especially excited to announce: "The best thing about it is there's no cover charge -- just a $20 food/drink minimum."
The Westgate Hotel is located at 1055 Second Ave. downtown.
Robert Bush Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.