Southern California trumpet virtuoso, Gilbert Castellanos, makes music that sounds effortless. Skilled with impressive dexterity and control, his clarity of expression moves listeners on a deeply emotional level.
Recognized as a new American master by Downbeat magazine, Castellanos has established himself as one of the nation’s most inventive improvisers in stirring live performances as a member of the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Anthony Wilson Nonet, Charles McPherson Quintet, Willie Jones III Quintet, and as leader of his own groups.
Zan Stewart of the Los Angeles Times says: "[Castellanos] plays with élan, evincing a more individual, ever-large sound offering hard swinging, often ear-grabbing solos...[proving] that music with deep roots in jazz's glorious '50s and '60s can sound completely contemporary today."
Castellanos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where his father performed as leader, singer and arranger of the popular cumbia band, Gil Castellanos y Su Copacabana. His father’s love for classical composers and big band jazz broadened young Gilbert’s horizons from an early age, and he was encouraged to become a jazz musician. By the time he’d reached elementary school in California, Castellanos was listening to Freddie Hubbard on his Walkman and playing the theme from Rocky on his first day in band class.
After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Cal Arts in Los Angeles, Castellanos quickly rose to national attention as a member of the celebrated band Black/Note, with whom he recorded three albums: “L.A. Underground” (Red Records), Jungle Music (Columbia Records) and “Nothin’ But the Swing” (Impulse Records). His recording career since Black/Note has seen Castellanos thrive as a player, bandleader, composer and arranger on two acclaimed albums: his soulful 1999 self-titled debut release, “The Gilbert Castellanos Hammond B3 Quartet,” and his eclectic second offering, “Underground” (Seedling Records, 2006).
A passionate advocate of formal jazz education, Castellanos regularly conducts high school workshops and is a lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
-- D.A. Kolodenko, San Diego CityBeat