Mr. E For Entertainment!
A Glimpse Into The Life Of Legendary Latin Jazz Musician Pete Escovedo
Subtle and humble are two words that perfectly describe this legendary percussionist. Two words one may not understand until you begin to know the man and his music. I am talking about the legendary master of percussion, Pete Escovedo.
Yes, he is ultra-talented, but Pete Escovedo, or Mr. E. as he is affectionately referred to, is also a down-to-earth, hip, cool, talented father and grandfather.
Although this multifaceted entertainer has played with many of the world's most renowned musicians, his greatest happiness is making music with family. "My biggest joy is performing with family and as I grow older I appreciate these times more and more," he says. "Nothing lasts forever and I am enjoying playing with my kids and grandkids."
An aficionado of all types of music, he also takes note of what his kids and grandkids are grooving to. "I'm old school and it is an entirely new concept of learning what is being catered to kids with technology, but I do have an iPod packed with music and like to keep my perspectives on music fresh. "Duke Ellington once said there are two kinds of music – good and bad; I listen to the good stuff!"
Escovedo shies away from the notion that he has changed the landscape of jazz music, however says the biggest hurdle he has leaped has been to achieve name recognition. "People don't buy your tickets and come to see your concerts if they don't know you or your music," he says. "Radio is such a huge push for musicians who want to be heard because it brings awareness to you as an artist. Radio has allowed me to expand and grow and to bring my love of entertaining to many people."
Although he has been playing music for more than 50 years he is constantly learning his craft. A native of San Francisco's bay area, Pete says he was surrounded by an influx of many types of music that influenced his career. "It was a tight community where I grew up and those precious sounds stayed with me," he says. "I like to experiment and bring those unique styles to my music and to the stage because it makes for a more interesting experience for the listener or audience."
Pete and his Latin Orchestra will appear for the Ventura Music Festival on February 13 in Ventura. Joining him on stage for a short set will be 17-year old Christian Choh of Agoura Hills who plays alto saxophone.
"I hear Christian is quite a talented musician and I am looking forward to sharing a few songs with him in Ventura," he says. "Inspiring and encouraging youth is one of the activities I most enjoy and having young talents share the stage with me, I look forward to it."
"I love performing and want our audiences to know they are coming to a concert and party when they share an evening with us," Pete says. "We are inviting the audience into our front room to hang out and enjoy the music with us."
Pete's biggest influence has been (hands-down, he says) Tito Puente, who he met as an 18-year-old just starting out. The two men enjoyed a lifelong friendship, one Pete and his orchestra pays homage to on stage through performing a song the pair co-wrote, ‘E Medley,' consisting of three songs. "Tito taught me so much, he had a great style and is still the best I have ever seen," Pete says. "He was and continues to be my mentor in so many ways."
When not playing music he is in the art studio expressing life's intricacies. A painter since high school (an art teacher went so far as to secure an art scholarship for art school), Pete says painting is his escape from the world. "Painting is my second love and when I retire I would like nothing more than to spend the rest of my days painting my experiences and emotions in life."
A gifted painter, his works are on display in many galleries across the U.S. and feature eclectic imagery close to his own heart and mind, often subjects he has seen during his travels or sketched on a pad of paper he always carries with him.
Musing on future endeavors, Pete would like to play more on his saxophone and trombone (the same instruments he has owned since high school), and still tickles the ivories of his piano, although admits he would like to be more proficient.
A graceful man, Pete says it is his personal faith that has allowed him to take the right paths to grow and succeed as an artist.
"This life playing music is a gift and came to me from a higher place, "he says. "God has blessed my family and I with talents. It is so important to maintain a spiritual awareness in this industry and if up and coming artists can remember this, they will be just fine."
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