December 5, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Jazz guitarist Rick Zunigar’s wide-ranging career includes a Francis Ford Coppola film sound track performance, appearances on Stevie Wonder videos, television shows, and alongside a long list of famous acts including Queen Latifah, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, and Mary J. Blige.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m., he will bring his talents to La Sierra University to lead the Rick Zunigar Quartet for the Pierce Street Jazz series. The concert will take place at the university’s Alumni Center, 11500 Pierce St., Riverside. Admission is free. The band will feature Zunigar on guitar, Ramon Banda on drums, Henry “the Skipper” Franklin on bass and Theo Saunders on piano. Information is at 951-785-2148.
Zunigar, born in Queens, New York, derived his varied musical interests from his parents, natives of Puerto Rico. His mother sang and performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and Zunigar grew up listening to salsa and jazz. He discovered a love of the guitar and by age 17 hit the professional circuit. He began building a track record of performances and recordings with a many famous acts, his biography states. Zunigar’s primary musical genre is jazz, although he incorporates bebop, Latin, rhythm and blues, and fusion into his repertoire.
His performance credits include stints on late night talk shows David Letterman and Jay Leno during the 1990s, performance on the Soul Train 25th Anniversary show, on a PBS program with the Freddie Hubbard and Pat Metheny Group, and musical tours around the world.
Bassist Franklin’s extensive musical background includes performances on more than 150 albums and compact discs including gold releases, many of which he produced. In February he released his 24th album, “Soul of the World,” recorded with his band on his SP Records label. His band’s 2009 album, “Home Cookin’,” features the renowned Barbara Morrison on vocals. The project received airplay on KJAZZ 88.1 FM.
Franklin has played his upright bass with numerous jazz and pop greats including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Count Basie, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson, and was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band during the late 1960s. When not on tour in various parts of the United States and the world, Franklin performs at The Historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif.
Pianist 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 performed 24 years with the Grammy award-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. He is a current band member with famed jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco. Banda grew up in Norwalk, Calif., part of a large musical family. He started out on the guitar but switched to drums in 1967. Banda and his electric bass-playing brother, Tony Banda, performed weekend gigs during their school years with several bands including with Poncho Sanchez. In 1996 he and Tony formed their own ensemble, The Banda Bros. Group, with Tony on upright bass. The duo has performed on numerous worldwide tours and with many famous acts. Over the past two decades, Ramon has performed on more than 22 recordings and recorded and played with such music greats as Dizzie Gillespie, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Diana Reeves and others.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University