Charles McPherson

Charles McPhersonFor more than 50 years, saxophonist Charles McPherson has been one of the most expressive and highly regarded voices of jazz in the world. His rich musical style, rooted in the blues and bebop, has influenced and inspired generations of musicians and listeners. Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri and moved to Detroit at age nine. After growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19. He moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 and performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), and George Coleman (tenor sax).  Charles has called San Diego his hometown since 1978.

Mr. McPherson has performed at concerts and festivals with his own variety of groups, consisting of quartets, quintets to full orchestras all over the world with the greatest jazz musicians of our time.   He has toured the U.S., Europe, Japan, Africa and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Barry Harris, Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly, Jay McShann, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Gilbert Castellanos, Brian Lynch and many others.

McPherson has recorded as guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. He has recorded as leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, Arabesque, and most recently the highly acclaimed, ‘The Journey’ on Capri.

Charles was also the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film “Bird,” a biography about Charlie Parker.

McPherson remains a strong, viable force on the jazz scene today. He is at the height of his powers. His playing and composing combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation. Throughout his five decades of being an integral performer of the music, Charles has not merely remained true to his Be Bop origins, but has expanded on them. Stanley Crouch says in his New York Times article on Charles, “He is a singular voice who has never sacrificed the fluidity of his melody making, and is held in high esteem by musicians both long seasoned and young.”

Charles has composed two Jazz Suites for San Diego Ballet, ‘Sweet Synergy Suite’ and ‘Reflection & Hope’.  He looks forward to many more collaborations with SDB’s artistic director Javier Velasco.

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Gilbert Castellanos

Nationally renowned musician, educator and composer based in San Diego, is one of the hottest jazz trumpeters in the United States today. He holds the distinction of American Master from the internationally acclaimed Down Beat Magazine. A San Diego Music Awards Best Artist of the Year, he has also been awarded Best Jazz Artist six times. Adept in straight-ahead, as well as Latin and Afro Cuban jazz, Castellanos has become a leading figure of the vibrant, diverse and flourishing jazz scene here in Southern California.

Castellanos is the Artistic Curator of both of the San Diego Symphony’s highly successful jazz series – Jazz at The Jacobs and Bayside Summer Nights – which have featured some of today’s brightest stars including Gregory Porter, Chucho Valdes, Dianne Reeves, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and more. This year, he began a new collaboration with the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA), Portraits In Jazz, a concert series that introduces the American art form to SDMA’s global members and supporters.

The Young Lions Jazz Conservatory (YLJC) launched in 2017, was founded by Castellanos who serves as Artistic Director and is the faculty’s primary educator; mentoring the next generation of jazz is one of his greatest passions. In 2014, he launched the precursor to the YLJC, the Young Lions Series at Panama 66 at The San Diego Museum of Art, to highlight up-and-coming middle and high school jazz musicians; over 250 have been featured to date. His popular Wednesday Jazz Jam at Panama 66 is the longest running jam in the city.

Castellanos has worked with world-renowned artists Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Hayden, Horace Silver, Oscar Hernandez, Poncho Sanchez, Charles McPherson, Diana Krall, Willie Nelson, Michael Buble, and Natalie Cole, to name a few.

Castellanos is committed to “keeping jazz alive” by creating new and innovative ways to raise awareness of the American art form, expanding the San Diego jazz scene and cultivating new audiences and investing in young musicians to ensure the future of jazz.

“[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.” – LA Times

“Gilbert Castellanos was a true gem to have on my new CD ”The Art of Latin Jazz.”  In my opinion, he is one of the top trumpet players on the scene today. His playing was brilliant, and he added just the spark that took the music to another level.” – Oscar Hernandez, Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer and band leader of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.