Joe Gallardo

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Joe Gallardo
Jose Joe Gallardo Unterfahrt 2009-08-25-002.jpg
Joe Gallardo at the Unterfahrt Jazz Club in Munich, 2009
Background information
Birth name Jose Gallardo
Born (1939-09-22) September 22, 1939 (age 77)
Corpus Christi, Texas, United States
Genres Latin jazz, modern jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer and teacher
Instruments Piano, trumpet, trombone

Jose "Joe" Gallardo (September 22, 1939 in Corpus Christi, Texas) is an American jazz musician and composer.[1] He composed the title track of the Mongo Santamaria album Amanecer ("Dawn"), which won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Latin Recording. Since the late 1970s, he has lived and worked in Germany.

Gallardo was inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in 2008.[2]

“Latin Jazz has always been close to my heart, despite the fact that I was not around this music all my life.” Joe Gallardo

In 1977, "Amanecer" ("Dawn"), a Gallardo composition was recorded as the title piece with Mongo Santamaria's orchestra and was awarded the Grammy in the best Latin recording of 1978 category.”

Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Gallardo started playing piano at age 6 and trombone at age 14. He attended Del Mar Jr. College and the University of Corpus Christi, majoring in music. His musical career includes having played with major jazz and Latin orchestras such as Luis Arcaraz, Stan Kenton, Mongo Santamaria and backed artists Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, and many others. His credits with different types and genres of music include making guest appearances as jazz soloist/section player with the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra under Maurice Peress, as guest trombone soloist with Nelson Riddle conducting the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and featured guest soloist with the Houston Pops Orchestra under Ned Battista.

During his late teens and early adult years, Gallardo lists his stints with pioneer Tejano/TexMex orchestra leaders, Beto Villa and Isidro Lopez, and Mexico’s premier orchestra leader, Luis Arcaraz. Gallardo’s stints with these seminal Tejano/TexMex and Mexican bands, as well as his intense love and exposure to jazz, latin jazz, and big bands, factored into his later explosive influence in the early 1970’s sophisticated arrangements as musical director for Little Joe y La Familia on “Para La Gente” and “Total” albums and then on the first “Tortilla Factory” album during the heyday of the Tejano/Chicano Onda.

In 1959, as a college member of the Jazz Club and Ensemble at Del Mar College, Gallardo came up with idea of bringing real live Jazz musicians to perform for the students. This first initial show became the impetus that lead Gallardo to become the founder of what has become another of his lasting legacies, the Texas Jazz Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is a yearly performer flying in from Germany for this prestigious three-day jazz festival, which brings in top musicians and fans of all ages.

In 1968, Gallardo received a call from his friend, trumpet player, Luis Gasca, for an Atlantic Records recording session in New York City, which produced The Little Giant album. Gallardo got his first real exposure to what he described “real Latin jazz artists” such as Mongo Santamaria, Mark Levine and Julio Collazo, along with such jazz giants as Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Richard Davies and Bernard Purdie.

Gasca and Gallardo would team up again in 1974 for a Fantasy Records / Orrin Keepnews production of Born to Love You. This album featured Luis Gasca, Eddie Henderson trumpet, Joe Gallardo trombone/piano, Ray Pizzi alto flute, soprano saxophone, Joe Henderson tenor saxophone, Mark Levine electric piano, George Duke keyboards, John Heard bass, electric bass, Dave Holland electric bass, Jack DeJohnette drums, Victor Pantoja congas, Carmelo Garcia timbales, congas.

By 1976, Orrin Keepnews produced the third collaboration of Gasca and Gallardo on another Fantasy Records album, Collage. Collage would feature the title track written by Gallardo, Collage.

In 1977, Gallardo wrote, arranged, and played on Mongo Santamaria’s Grammy Award winning album - Dawn (Amanecer) on Vaya Records and produced by Marty Sheller. The title song, Amanecer, was written, arranged and performed by Gallardo. Musicians included: Mongo Santamaria congas, Mike Di Martino trumpet, Al Williams tenor, soprano sax, flute and alto flute, Roger Rosenberg baritone, alto, soprano sax, flute and alto flute, Bill O'Connell electric, acoustic piano and string synthesizer, Lee Smith bass guitar, Steve Berrios traps, timbales, guiro, and percussion, Greg Jarman "Peachy" bongos, bell and chekere, John Blair Sitar on "Fat Rat", "Jelly Belly" & "Amanacer" Julito Collazo bata drum, cowbell, bassdrum and guiro, Joe Gallardo electric piano on "Amanacer", Ruben Blades & Adalberto Santiago vocals on "Amanacer."

The German Radio/Television orchestra from Stuttgart offered Gallardo a position in the orchestra as featured soloist in 1978, where he remained for eleven years, finally deciding in 1991 to take an offer in the Hamburg Radio/Television Orchestra as a featured soloist as well as part- time conductor. After joining the NDR Big Band in 1991, Gallardo started bringing in some Latin jazz big band compositions and performing them internationally. In 1999, for his 60th birthday, German broadcaster NDR threw a party for Gallardo at the "Fabrik" featuring the band with Paquito D'Rivera's rhythm section performing his music. It was there that Gallardo came up with the "Latin Jazz Latino" slogan, which is now part of the NDR Big Band music program.

After arriving in Germany in 1978, Gallardo started to write for his new group called Latino Blue and eventually recorded his first German LP for Sandra Records. He started a new "Latino Blue" group in 2002 and recorded A Latin Shade Of Blue on Enja Records. This recording put the band on a concert schedule with appearances at festivals such as JazzBaltica and the Burghausen Jazz Festival.

Thanks to Skip Records and the NDR Big Band, Gallardo received the opportunity to record his big band in Latin Jazz Latino featuring his music augmented by great arrangements from Michael Mossman and a guest rhythm section consisting of Oscar Stagnaro, Alon Yavnai, and Mark Walker. As Gallardo proudly states, “Much to my enjoyment, the NDR Big Band played its heart out, and the response from everybody (from the office down to the musicians) was incredible. Needless to say, the same kind of response was received from Skip Records and all the NDR studio engineers, especially from guest engineer Oliver Bergner, who handled the mastering. To all the participants I can only say... Muchas Gracias!"

In 2013, Gallardo united with Roberto Santamaria and the Latin Jazz Stars as a featured soloist on an album titled Fiesta Al Jazz. Among the songs recorded with Roberto, who is Mongo Santamaria’s nephew from Cuba, was the Grammy-winning song, Dawn (Amanecer), that Gallardo wrote and played on the Mongo Santamaria Dawn (Amanecer) titled album in 1977.


1968: Luis Gasca - The Little Giant

1971: Arnett Cobb - The Wild Man From Texas (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

1972: Little Joe y La Familia - Para La Gente

1973: Little Joe y La Familia - Total

1973: La Tortilla Factory - La Tortilla Factory

1974: Luis Gasca - Born To Love You

1975: Mongo Santamaria - Mongo / Lady Guajira (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

1975: Joe Gallardo - SOL out of Houston Texas

1976: Luis Gasca - Collage

1977: Mongo Santamaria - Dawn (Amanecer) Grammy Award winner (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

1979: Mel Lewis and New Quintet - The New Mel Lewis Quintet Live (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

1981: Joe Gallardo and Latino Blue – Latino Blue in Germany

1988: Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass - Live in Concert Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

2002: Joe Gallardo and Latino Blue - A Latin Shade Of Blue in Germany

2004: Joe Gallardo – Latin Jazz Latino with the NDR BIG BAND in Germany

2005: Pee Wee Ellis - Different Rooms (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

2012: Jerry Tilitz & Joe Gallardo - An Exciting Jazz Trombone Summit

2013: Roberto Santamaria and His Latin Jazz Stars - Fiesta Al Jazz (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

2015: The Windwalkers - The Windwalkers (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

2015: Roberto Santamaria - The Conga King (Featuring Joe Gallardo)

1991- 2007 CD productions with the NDR BIG BAND as lead trombonist from 1991 till 2007. Among the artists recorded with the NDR BIG BAND included Al Jarreau, McCoy Tyner, Joao Bosco, Albert Mangelsdorff, Slide Hampton, Jon Hammond, Wayne Shorter, Eric Dolphy, Paquito D’Rivera and many others.


2008: Inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame

2016: Chicano Giants of Jazz Tribute to Joe Gallardo and Luis Gasca with guest vocalist, Dr. Andy Gamon, in Austin, Texas. Organized by Rene Garcia.

Printed References:

1996: Texan Jazz, by Dave Oliphant, University of Texas Press

2007: Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State, by Dave Oliphant, University of Texas Press


  1. ^ Prange, Carina (July 4, 2008). "Joe Gallardo – "Coach, nicht Lehrer!"" (in German). Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hervey, Christine (June 6, 2008). "Celebrating music, art, surf". Corpus Christi Caller-Times.