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|Birth name||Joseph Thomas Escovedo|
April 30, 1941|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Origin||Oakland, California, U.S.|
|Died||July 13, 1986
Montebello, California, U.S.
|Genres||R&B, jazz fusion, soul, disco, funk|
|Instruments||Percussions, timbales, congas, bongos, tambourine, vocals|
|Associated acts||Santana, Azteca, Pete Escovedo|
Coke Escovedo (born Joseph Thomas Escovedo, April 30, 1941, in Los Angeles, California) was an American percussionist. Coke grew up in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area and developed an early interest in jazz and Latin music through exposure gained from his father, an aspiring big band singer, and eventually gravitated to drums and Latin percussion. Coke's older brother, fellow percussionist Pete Escovedo, recruited Coke for a local Latin jazz combo led by pianist Carlos Federico. The Federico combo evolved into the Escovedo Brothers Band, which also counted Pete, bassist brother Phil Escovedo, saxophonist-flautist Mel Martin and trombonist Al Bent among its regular members. Coke began to gain some notoriety in the San Francisco Bay Area Latin jazz scene and worked with jazz vibraphonist Cal Tjader (some of his finest work can be found on Tjader's album Agua Dulce). Coke rose to even greater prominence in early 1971 when he first became a member of Santana, initially as a replacement for timbale player Jose "Chepito" Areas, who had been sidelined with medical issues. Escovedo was featured on Santana's Santana III album. Coke co-authored a hit song from that album, "No One To Depend On", which peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Years later, the song would be covered by Vitamin C as part of her 1999 hit "Me, Myself And I" (#36 on Top 40 Mainstream chart). While in the Santana band, Coke performed at many high-profile concerts, including the historic closing of the Fillmore West (appearing on the live recording and documentary film from that event). Santana drummer Michael Shrieve has credited Coke for showing him how to incorporate some Latin percussion figures into his drum set playing during their time together. During Carlos Santana's transition period between the original and "New" Santana bands, Coke also performed with the Carlos Santana/Buddy Miles group, appearing on the 1972 release Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!
Coke had been, along with Jose "Chepito" Areas, pioneering a new style on the traditional Cuban timbales. Though drawing on the influence of the extroverted timbale showman Tito Puente, Coke took the explosive power of the Cuban drums even further, adding spice to rock and soul music recordings by artists such as Boz Scaggs, Cold Blood, It's A Beautiful Day, and Malo (with whom he was a featured soloist on their debut LP), as well as to freer jazz experiments with artists such as trumpeter Luis Gasca. In early 1972, Coke, following his vision of putting together "a band that could play anything", formed Azteca along with his brother Pete Escovedo. The band signed to Columbia Records and released its self-titled debut album in December 1972. It reached No. 38 on the R&B chart in 1973. A second album, Pyramid of the Moon, was released in the fall of 1973. Both albums prominently featured Coke's timbale playing and some of his compositions, as leader of an all-star cast of musicians, many of whom would become prominent solo artists. Despite garnering critical acclaim and playing high-profile concert tours, the big-band Azteca lineup was difficult to sustain. Second release Pyramid of the Moon failed to chart and by 1974, Coke Escovedo left Azteca. In 1975, he began work on the first of his three solo albums, simply titled Coke. This 1976 solo debut featured a spare, sophisticated soul/funk/jazz/Latin blend highlighting the talents of vocalist Linda Tillery (formerly of The Loading Zone) and keyboardist-composer Herman Eberitzsch. A Top 100 R&B single, "Make It Sweet", resulted, along with a TV appearance on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Coke recorded two more albums: the pop-oriented Comin' at Ya! (featuring former Azteca vocalist Errol Knowles) in 1976. 1977's Disco Fantasy proved critically and commercially disappointing and became the last album of solo material he released. Escovedo continued to perform in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond at the helm of a band that included former Malo guitarist Abel Zarate in pursuit of a new record deal which never materialized, and also continued to do session work and to tour with the likes of Santana, Herbie Hancock and his niece Sheila E, finally relocating to the Los Angeles area in the 1980s. Coke Escovedo died at the age of 45 on July 13, 1986.
Coke Escovedo has many family members involved in the entertainment industry. Coke's brothers include Pete Escovedo, who was also percussionist with Santana (and father of Sheila E), and Alejandro Escovedo, who is currently a prominent recording artist working in the Americana style of music and formerly led the 1990s band the True Believers, a band which included brother Javier Escovedo (of pioneering punk rock band, The Zeros). Older brother Phil Escovedo played bass alongside Coke and Pete in the Escovedo Brothers Band and also on sessions with Latin Jazz vibraphonist Cal Tjader. Youngest brother Mario Escovedo fronted critically acclaimed San Diego rockers The Dragons. Escovedo's niece is Prince collaborator Sheila Escovedo (a.k.a. Sheila E.) and his son is Paris Escovedo of the Escovedo Project.
|Year||Album||Chart positions||Record label|
|1976||Comin' at Ya!||190||37|
- "Coke Escovedo US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
http://www.chipboaz.com/blog/2010/07/14/latin-jazz-conversations-pete-escovedo-part-2/; http://santanamigos.pagesperso-orange.fr/band.htm; Voices of Latin Rock: The People and Events That Created This Sound (Jim McCarthy with co-author Ron Sansoe, 316 pages, Hal Leonard Corporation, June 2005, ISBN 0-634-08061-X); http://www.moonflowercafe.com/azone.html; http://www.moonflowercafe.com/mscafe1.html