Pierce Street Jazz steps it up with Latin flair

Afro-Cuban percussionist legend, the late Francisco Aguabella, was recipient of a national heritage fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and taught at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Afro-Cuban percussionist legend, the late Francisco Aguabella, was recipient of a national heritage fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and taught at the University of California, Los Angeles.

January 19, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) La Sierra University’s on-going Pierce Street Jazz series will showcase the sizzling grooves of the Francisco Aguabella Memorial Latin Jazz Ensemble at the LSU Alumni Center.

The band will feature industry pros Sal Cracchiolo on trumpet, Benn Clatworthy on saxophone and flute, Brian Velasco on piano, Brian Wright on bass, Christian Moraga on conga drums, and Jorge Carbonell on drums.

Admission is free. The concert will be held today, Jan. 19, 7 p.m., at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, 11500 Pierce St., Riverside. For more information call 951-785-2148.

The ensemble carries on the tradition of its namesake, the late, great Afro-Cuban percussionist, Francisco Aguabella who pursued a long and wide-ranging career in jazz and salsa. Aguabella, who passed away last May, garnered the respect of numerous musicians and music professors. He was recipient of a national heritage fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and taught at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was also featured in a documentary in 1995.

The band members have years of experience performing and recording with top acts and studying music. Below are a few of their stories.

Cracchiolo, a native of Long Beach, began studying trumpet with his mother at age 12. By age 15 he began performing with rhythm and blues and Latin bands and studied with legendary trumpet educators Jimmy Stamp and Bobby Shew.

Cracchiolo has performed and recorded with a long roster of music’s greats, including Poncho Sanchez, with whom he recorded 18 albums. With Sanchez, he has played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Cal Tjader, Chick Corea, Stanley Turentine, Tito Puente, Gary Foster and many others. With Sanchez and other acts, Cracchiolo has performed in 39 countries around the world and played in many top-flight jazz festivals.

His worldwide tours have included those with Tom Jones, Vicki Carr, Harry Connick and Brian Setzer. He and his wife, vocalist Melanie Jackson, perform in their own sextet. In 2001 their album, “Fly,” was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Sal Cracchiolo has also played on arrangements by John Clayton for artists Queen Latifah, Michael Buble, Gladys Knight, Charles Aznevour, John Pizzarelli, Joss Stone and Diana Krall. He is a Yamaha artist and clinician.

Clatworthy was born in England in 1955. He has been a resident of Los Angeles, Calif. since 1980 when he arrived for a two-week visit and never left, he said. He studied the horn with saxophone guru Phil Sobel.

Clatworthy has worked with: Cedar Walton, Francisco Aguabella, Otmaro Ruiz, Cecilia Coleman, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Cleveland, John Heard, Roy McCurdy, Jon Mayer, Tony Insalaco, Jeff Berlin, Martin Drew, The New Jazz Couriers, Alan Barnes Nonet, Anita Wardell, Tony Lujan, Larry Gales, Alex Acuna, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Ray Armando, Henry Franklin, Bobby Shew, Pete Christlieb, Garcia brothers, Carl Burnett, Al "Tootie" Heath, Jimmy Branly, the Ebonic Blues Orchestra, Theo Saunders, Gary Novak and Dave Carpenter. His album releases include “The Decider” and “Luminessence.”

Bassist Wright is a highly active player in the San Diego music scene. Performing on upright, as well as electric bass, he has been playing for 36 years. Before moving to California, he studied at Michigan State, where he had the opportunity to perform with many great bands that visited the campus. Career highlights include a performance with the Count Basie Orchestra. He regularly plays with Hollis Gentry, Carlos X. Pena, the Del Bybee Big Band, and Wayne Foster, and has recorded with Jaime Valle and Alex Acuna.

Conga drummer Moraga, a native of Santiago, Chile, eventually landed in the United States where as a teenager he learned the art of drumming from a professor in Illinois. He returned to Chile and began playing professionally until his keen interest in learning more about various forms of percussion took him to several countries. He traveled to Cuba and studied with master percussionist “Changuito,” and later attended the Harbor Conservatory of the Performing Arts in New York. He then backtracked to Peru to learn Afro-Peruvian percussion. Back in Chile he played 10 years with rock-funk, Latin jazz and jazz big bands. He is now a Los Angeles resident. Moraga has performed with Nestor Torres, Kevin Ceballos, Oscar Cartaya, Fruko y sus Tesos, the Banda Brothers, Jimmy Bosh, Tito Nieves, Johnny Polanco y su Conjunto Amistad and many others.

 

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

   

  • Last update on  January 19, 2011