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First Person: For Gilbert Castellanos Music Is Sustenance

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December 5, 2016 1:31 p.m.

First Person: For Gilbert Castellanos Music Is Sustenance


Gilbert Castellanos, artistic director, International Academy of Jazz

Related Story: First Person: For Gilbert Castellanos Music Is Sustenance


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Even as a child, San Diego trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos says music for him was like sustenance. His musical experiences read like a jazz Encyclopedia. Dizzy Gillespie helped him earn a college scholarship, he toward the world performing with minted -- went to Marsalis. Now he says bolding the next generation of musical minds as artistic director of San Diego's international Academy of jazz. His young lions as he calls them, play at panama 66 in Balboa Park most Wednesday nights. For the first person profile, Gilbert Castellanos takes us along on his jazz journey.

I remember walking with Dizzy Gillespie. I remember him putting his arm around me. He gave me this look and he says, your make on a right Rex and I said yes Mr. Gillespie. He said you play like one. That made my day. I was the happiest kid on the planet. [music]. My name is Gilbert Castellanos of a trumpet player, and educator here in San Diego. I was born in [Indiscernible] and my father had a 15 piece salsa band. From day one when I was born, I was the chosen one to be the musician. Is it back [music]. When my father introduced me to musical instruments, I was attracted to the trumpet for some reason. He said if you pick up the trumpet, you will never put it down. He was not kidding. He immediately got me started on lessons and since we were hurst, since my father hurst his group at the house, there was always musicians coming in and out and after the rehearsals with my father's band he would make one of the trouble player stick around and give me a lesson. That's how I got introduced to play in the trumpet. He was not a jazz musician but he, in a way was living vicariously through me to become a jazz musician. I immediately started listening to jazz at a very young age. A lot of the music that accrue up with the Latin music. The salsa and cargo, the Caribbean sound. [music]. I started to really get attracted to jazz for some reason, that reason -- that music spoke to me. Dizzy Gillespie was the first real jazz musician that I got to listen to. There was a competition that was being presented by the Monterey Jazz Festival and if you won the competition, you can't perform with Dizzy Gillespie. I tried out for the competition and I got in. [music]. I was one of five trouble players in the nation to not only perform with Dizzy Gillespie at the Monterey Jazz Festival but also tour Japan with him for two weeks. I was 16 at the time. That really changed my life. [music]. One thing that dizzy told me backstage was, he asked me how much do I practice. At that time I was in practicing. Maybe two or three hours a day. For me that was a lot. I had homework and school had he said you know how much I practiced when I was your age? I said how long. He said I practiced 8 to 10 hours a day. The one thing that he said that really stuck to me, if you practice one hour, you sound like one hour. If you practice eight hours, you sound like eight hours. That hit home with me and I was on my way to college so when I left for Berklee College of music, I immediately started to practice 6 to 8 hours a day. I had that access now, the 24 hour practice rooms at the college and I never slept, but I would make sure to get the hours in and that's important advice to any musician. If you want to believe in your dream, you have to treat it like a day job.

When I think of jazz, I think of three words: I dare you. That's what I'm telling my kids. I dare you to go for it, I dare you to try to play that. I dare you to take me there, I dare you to tell me a story. I dare you to climb the mountain, musically speaking. I met when she was 13 and now shall be 14 coming into the program. Within one year she just blossomed. I think with the proper encouragement and with just being in a positive environment, that really helps because anything that you say to a child in a negative context, that sticks with them forever. It's cars them. That's one thing that I preach in my school, in my classes. I tell my kids, if you have anything negative to say, you check it at the code rack and you come in here and you play and you swing. This is where I want you to let out your aggression, your frustration, let me know all about it through your instrument. I don't want to hear about it, I want to hear about it through your instrument and that's one thing that I noticed about [Name Indiscernible], she blossomed into an amazing young talented vocalist. I don't even consider a vocalist, I consider the musician. Or is a difference. There are some people that claim to be singers and there are some people that claim to be musicians, and she is a true musician. I get more excited about driving to teach on Saturday mornings at the international Academy of jazz. That's my passion, I can more excited about working with the kids that I do performing the states. I don't know how many people can say that. A professional career playing music. [music].

You're listening to students from Gilbert Castillo's class at the international Academy of jazz. The next when they just jam is the summer seventh at panama 66 in Balboa Park. This first person profile was produced by Megan Burke.