Harmonica jazz artist to lead Pierce Street quartet

Photo of Ron Kalina by famed photographer, the late Herman Leonard.
Photo of Ron Kalina by famed photographer, the late Herman Leonard.

October 4, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Harmonica and piano virtuoso Ron Kalina, whose talents can be heard on many movie and television soundtracks, will lead next month’s Pierce Street Jazz concert at La Sierra University.

The Ron Kalina Quartet, a group of professional, international jazz players, will begin their performance at 7 p.m., Wed., Oct. 6, at La Sierra’s Alumni Center, 11500 Pierce St. Admission is free. The quartet includes Theo Saunders on piano, Ramon Banda on drums and Henry “the Skipper” Franklin on upright bass.

For more information call 951-785-2148. A campus map is at http://lasierra.edu/resources/campusmap/. The event is part of La Sierra’s on-going Pierce Street Jazz concerts which offer the community free jazz by talented, professional players. The periodic concerts kicked off last fall with quartets organized by noted jazz bassist Franklin who has performed with numerous headline acts over the past 40 years. He has played in weekly jazz combos for many years at Riverside’s Mission Inn.

Kalina, a well-known Los Angeles and Palm Springs artist, has performed throughout the United States and Europe. His performances and recordings include work on soundtracks for “Moonlighting,”  “Paradise,” “The Simpsons,” numerous commercials and on many albums including Linda Ronstadt’s “Canciones de me Padre.” He has received many awards and including first place in the 1991 International Jazz Harmonica Competition. Recently he was the featured harmonica soloist at the Mammoth Jazz Jubilee and participated in jazz festivals in Newport Beach, L.A.’s Sweet ‘n Hot Festival, Idyllwild and many other places. Most recently he jammed with The Four Freshmen in Annapolis, Md.

The Pierce Street concert marks return appearances for Saunders, Banda and Franklin who have performed with several other Pierce Street Jazz ensembles.

Saunders has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and concert halls with distinguished artists including Freddie Hubbard, Carla Bley, David “Fathead” Newman, Barbara Morrison, Charles Lloyd, Claudio Roditi, Victor Brasil, Raul De Souza, Bobby Rodriguez, Gladys Knight, the Four Tops and many others.
He has directed music for opera productions and international musical theatre. As a composer, Saunders has numerous compositions to his credit as well as original scores for theatre, radio and multimedia production. Artists Franklin, Ray Armando, Benn Clatworthy, Bobby Matos, and Bruce Paulson have recorded his compositions.

Drummer Banda is a former 24-year member of the Grammy award-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. He grew up in Norwalk, Calif., part of a large musical family. When Banda was a boy, the family performance group, The Latin Boys, played at parties and weddings around Southern California. Banda started out on the guitar but switched to drums in 1967 when his cousin Mike Chavarria Jr. was called to serve in Vietnam. Banda and his electric bass-playing brother, Tony Banda, performed weekend gigs during their grade school years with several bands including with Poncho Sanchez.

Franklin honed his bass-playing skills with the greats of the business. To name a few, he has played with Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Count Basie, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson and was part of the legendary Hugh Musekela’s band during the late 1960s. A native of Los Angeles, his storied background includes recordings on gold albums and performances on more than 100 records, many of which he produced. He creates albums under his label, SP Records. “I strive and work hard to do the best for jazz,” Franklin says in his biography. “It’s America’s only art form.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  October 29, 2010