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 nameJose Gallardo
Born (1939-09-22) September 22, 1939 (age 79)
Corpus Christi, Texas, United States
GenresLatin jazz, jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer and teacher
InstrumentsPiano, trumpet, trombone

Jose "Joe" Gallardo (born September 22, 1939) 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.


Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Gallardo started playing piano at age 6 and trombone at age 14. He attended Del Mar Junion College and the University of Corpus Christi, majoring in music. His musical career includes having played with Luis Arcaraz, Stan Kenton, Mongo Santamaria and supported Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, and Chet Baker. He worked as a guest with the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra under Maurice Peress, with Nelson Riddle conducting the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and with the Houston Pops Orchestra under Ned Battista. During his late teens and early adult years, Gallardo worked with Beto Villa, Isidro Lopez, and Mexican orchestra leader Luis Arcaraz. He was musical director for Little Joe y La Familia on the albums Para La Gente and Total 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 live jazz musicians to perform for the students. This led Gallardo to become the founder of the Texas Jazz Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas.

In 1968, Gallardo received a call from his friend, trumpeter Luis Gasca, for an Atlantic Records recording session in New York City which produced the album The Little Giant. He got his first exposure to what he called "real Latin jazz artists" such as Mongo Santamaria, Mark Levine, and Julio Collazo, along with Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Richard Davies, and Bernard Purdie. Gasca and Gallardo played together again in 1974 for the album Born to Love You produced by Orrin Keepnews. This album included Luis Gasca, Eddie Henderson, Joe Henderson, George Duke, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette. In 1976 Keepnews produced Collage, their third collaboration, with a title track written by Gallardo.

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, Mike Di Martino, Al Williams, Roger Rosenberg, Bill O'Connell, Steve Berrios, and Greg Jarman.

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

After arriving in Germany in 1978, Gallardo started to write for his band Latino Blue and recorded his first German LP for Sandra Records. He started a new Latino Blue group in 2002 and recorded A Latin Shade of Blue for Enja. This recording put the band on a concert schedule with appearances at 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 arrangements from Michael Mossman and a guest rhythm section consisting of Oscar Stagnaro, Alon Yavnai, and Mark Walker.

In 2013, Gallardo united with Roberto Santamaria (Mongo Santamaria's nephew) and the Latin Jazz Stars as a featured soloist on the album Fiesta Al Jazz. Among the songs recorded was the Grammy-winning song "Dawn".

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2008: South Texas Music Walk of Fame[2]
  • 2016: Chicano Giants of Jazz Tribute to Joe Gallardo and Luis Gasca


As leader[edit]

  • 1981: Latino Blue
  • 2002: A Latin Shade of Blue
  • 2004: Latin Jazz Latino with the NDR Big Band

As sideman[edit]

With Luis Gasca

  • 1968: The Little Giant
  • 1974: Born to Love You
  • 1976: Collage

With Little Joe y La Familia

  • 1972: Para La Gente
  • 1973: Total

With Mongo Santamaria

  • 1975: Mongo / Lady Guajira
  • 1977: Dawn (Amanecer)

With Roberto Santamaria

  • 2013: Fiesta Al Jazz
  • 2015: The Conga King

With others

  • 1971: Arnett Cobb - The Wild Man from Texas
  • 1973: La Tortilla Factory - La Tortilla Factory
  • 1979: Mel Lewis and New Quintet - The New Mel Lewis Quintet Live
  • 1988: Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass - Live in Concert Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass
  • 2005: Pee Wee Ellis - Different Rooms
  • 2012: Jerry Tilitz & Joe Gallardo - An Exciting Jazz Trombone Summit
  • 2015: The Windwalkers - The Windwalkers


  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.
  • 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
  • Biography and Discography revised and edited by Andy Gamon.