Lorraine Castellanos Unveils New Sextet Friday

Castellanos flexes her vocal muscles in a new sextet

San Diego songbird Lorraine Castellanos is about to embark on a new path in her career, debuting a brand-new band this Friday at 98 Bottles in Little Italy.

"The inspiration to start a sextet has been something I’ve been wanting to do for seven years,” explains Castellanos. “I just never felt I was ready to do it until now. The spark that led me here was listening to the 1954 Sarah Vaughan album with [trumpeter] Clifford Brown. The arrangements, musicianship and all-around vibe of that album blew me away.”

Castellanos's main gig is with the remarkable group Besos de Coco, a trio with bassist Evona Wascinski and tap percussionist Claudia Gomez, where she handles vocals and guitar. As much as I’ve always loved that group, I have always imagined hearing her concentrate on her singing, which is nothing short of sublime.

“My development as a jazz singer has been a long road filled with dozens of transcriptions from the likes of Dinah Washington, Anita O’ Day and Clark Terry,” says Castellanos. “Classical guitar and other projects have taken me far, but my heart has always wanted to simply sing! As a bandleader, I can sing with freedom -- without having to worry about accompanying myself -- diluting the delivery of what I want to do vocally.”

The group she has organized is loaded with local heavy hitters. “The guys in the group are so fun to work with. The rhythm section has Ed Kornhauser on piano, Dean Hulett on bass and Ryan Shaw on drums. Robert Dove plays tenor saxophone, and we have either Curtis Taylor or Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet!”

Castellanos's group has just one performance under their belt, and that one was a private show. “April 15 will be the first gig. It is part of a two-part series [second show May 13] showcasing notable jazz singers and their contributions,” says Castellanos. “I will be singing everything from Bessie Smith, to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, Rosemary Clooney, Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughan and more.”

98 Bottles is located at 2400 Kettner Boulevard. Tickets, which are still available, can be purchased online or at the door for $25. The second show in the series will be May 13.

Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years. Follow him on Twitter @robertbushjazz. Visit The World According to Rob. 

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