Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Influential: Gilbert Castellanos' Playlist

 January 28, 2021 at 11:03 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego, jazz trumpet grade Gilbert kassianos has had a harrowing few years with career threatening dental and medical problems and a string of groundbreaking dental procedures. He's finally able to play again. We asked him about the music that got them through the ordeal, as well as the artists that shaped his own music journey. Here's Castellanos himself with his story and a playlist of his influences Speaker 2: 00:26 Over the last few years. Yes, I have been struggling with not only some dental issues, but with my lower jaw, I started to experience some severe pain when I would play. And, uh, the pain just got worse and worse. And to the point where I literally was starting to approach the trumpet from a standpoint where, um, every day was a struggle, uh, I would be very inconsistent with my plane and, uh, some days I would sound great others. It was just, uh, I would sound like a complete beginner. It's been a long journey with the medical procedures that I've been going through and Dr. Roy vector, my dentist, I am extremely grateful for him because he literally made, um, devices that have never been made before. In order for me to continue playing the trumpet Speaker 1: 01:55 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 01:56 The music has, has gotten me through this, this whole, um, nightmare in a way, but one particular song that really stands out is a, a tune entitled. There is no greater love by the great Dinah Washington, which is my favorite version of this particular song. For me, it represents me and the music being in love with the music and the love of the music returning the favor. It's almost like if you take care of the music, the music will take care of you. Speaker 1: 02:57 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] Speaker 2: 03:41 Clifford Brown with strings, uh, was definitely the soundtrack to my life and it continues to be the soundtrack to my life. It was a particular album that was introduced to me by my father, who is also a musician. I just remember in junior high and even in high school playing along to the records. And one of my favorites to play is embraceable. You Speaker 1: 05:09 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 05:14 Los ponchos. Um, that's what they're really known as, uh, but everybody calls him trios ponchos, but those ponchos, um, that's really my roots. That's where, that's how I grew up. I grew up around an environment where my mother would be singing around the house and my father would play all of these, uh, particular songs that I grew up listening to by Los ponchos, uh, in his, in his groups. And that's how I learned about my heritage, my Mexican heritage by learning, uh, beautiful songs, boleros like [inaudible], Speaker 1: 06:20 [inaudible], [inaudible] Speaker 2: 06:27 One of my favorite songs of all time, his reasons, and, uh, that particular song I would play when I had my Hammond B3 quartet. That was like a, uh, part of, uh, my, my set. And I would play it probably three, four nights a week, but, uh, I just grew up around a lot of women and, and they all loved earth, wind and fire, and it was just a natural thing for me to embrace that and, and to also make it a part of my life and part of my musical taste Speaker 1: 07:32 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 07:37 For Fayrouz. Uh, there's a very interesting story behind this particular song that I, that I picked when I heard her sing, I was just mesmerized by her voice. Um, I was so intrigued by her and moved by her that I started to do some more research on her and, uh, found out that she is considered like the musical icon of Lebanon, and they would play her every morning on the loudspeakers. And there's a song in, and that's really kind of her hit it's called LA 10 Sonny Speaker 1: 08:45 [inaudible]. Speaker 2: 08:49 I decided to adapt that for, uh, one of my albums and recorded as a jazz version. And that one is also on my album underground. And so that you can hear a jazz version of a Fairuz tune played with, uh, with jazz instruments. She not only was an influence with her music, but also how I approached the trumpet because when I play the trumpet, I don't want to play the trumpet. I want to sing through my trumpet. Speaker 1: 09:48 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 09:48 I think I own three copies of bags and train on vinyl. And I also have, um, the CD version and I still have the original pressing that I just played to that you can't even put it on the record player anymore because they won't even play. Uh, but I still own that copy that I grew up listening to just dissecting it and transcribing, uh, songs off the album and memorizing the solos and, you know, pretending that I was in the band. And, uh, you know, it's just, uh, one of those albums that, that I, I always encourage all my students, um, and fellow musicians to really listen to, because it's one that's more of, of a, an obscure album by John culture. And that doesn't really get a lot of attention. I believe there's a song on there called the night. We called it a day. Speaker 1: 10:56 [inaudible], Speaker 2: 11:10 Let's just say that I wasn't able to play the trumpet again. I would have found another format to express my, my music and to, to get, to get it out. Um, my sound is not in my trumpet. My sound is in my head and I can approach music from any standpoint. It's, it's really, uh, the way the easiest way to describe it, picture the trumpet, being the vehicle, and then picture your sound, which is in your head being the steering wheel. So I can just take that steering wheel and put it on any instrument. And, uh, if I work hard enough, I can, I can still produce my sound and, and, uh, get, get the message out through that way. Um, it may take me a little longer to figure out how to play saxophone or how to play piano. Uh, but it's, it's all there. It's, it's, everything is in my head and that's why I love teaching because, um, I've always had that, um, to fall back on in case, um, you know, ended up being paralyzed or, um, you know, my lips sealed together where I couldn't play any wind instrument. So, um, the power of music is just unbelievable. Um, beyond, beyond words, it's so spiritual and, um, healing, and, and, and you can approach it from so many different points of view Speaker 1: 12:30 That was jazz trumpeter, Gilbert kassianos. You can catch him perform on Monday night with pianos, Gerald Clayton, with the Anthony Williams live-streamed jazz series, and you can find a longer version of his [inaudible] [inaudible].

Ways To Subscribe
After a harrowing few years of dental trauma and career-saving procedures, Gilbert Castellanos reflects on the music that shaped him — and got him through it.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments