Joe Castro

Joseph Armand “Joe”, Castro, August 15, 1927 -December 13, 2009 was an American bebop pianist, who was based primarily in the West Coast of America. Castro was born August 15, 1927 in Miami, Arizona to John L. Castro (and Lucy Sanchez). Castro attended school in Pittsburg in California, in the San Francisco Bay region, north of Oakland. He began playing professionally when he was 15. He was unable to enroll at San Jose State University because of a two-year stint in the Army from 1946 to 1947. Then, he started his first jazz trio that worked on the West Coast as well as in Hawaii. Castro and his trio made their debut in New York City’s most prestigious jazz clubs, including Birdland, The Embers and The Hickory. Leonard Feather, who called Castro’s style “assertively swinging”, and Dave Brubeck who knew Castro since the 1950s, praised him as an “extremely talented individual, a fine musician and an excellent pianist, and a tasteful performer”. He moved to Los Angeles in 1958 to be close to Teddy Edwards and Billy Higgins. Castro states that the group is very important to him. Castro says, “It was so hard to work with piano trios for so long that I had to learn to play less and speak more.” In fact, I feel more free in this group than when I was carrying the load. Castro performed with The Teddy Edwards Quartet extensively while also recording two of his own records as a leader at Atlantic Records. The first album, Mood Jazz (Atlantic 1264), was recorded November 19, 1956. It featured three ensembles: a large orchestra and vocals, another string orchestra and a regular jazz combination of trumpet, piano, alto saxophone and bass. The album was recorded by Tom Dowd and NesuhiErtegun, and Philly Joe Jones was the performer. Groove Funk Soul (Atlantic 1324), was recorded July 18, 1958. It featured Teddy Edwards on tenor and Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Billy Higgins drums. William Claxton took the album photo. This album’s title may be the first to include the word “funk”. In the 1960s, Doris Duke, a tobacco heiress and jazz enthusiast, and Castro, her long-term boyfriend, founded Clover Records and Jo-Do music publishing company. Clover Records released Castro’s third album, Lush Life, as a leader. Clover also released a 45 rpm single of “Lush Life” u0026 “Bossa Nova All The Way,” both tracks taken from the same album. Clover Records purchased high-end-15-IPS recording equipment. It was stored in an apartment above the Falcon Lair garage, which is the Beverly Hills estate of Doris Duke at No. 2 Bella Drive built in 1924 for silent film star Rudolph Valentino. Many performances were recorded on tape, and informal jam sessions took place at the Falcon Lair. The Castro-Duke, Clover, Jo-Do and Clover had all left the Falcon Lair by 1966. All three were soon disbanded. The majority of Falcon Lair’s high-quality recordings are still unreleased. Oscar Pettiford, a well-known bassist, recorded an original called “The Pendulum At Falcon’s Lair” back in 1956. Castro was also the backing vocalist for June Christy and Anita O’Day from 1959 to 1960. He was also music director for Tony Martin between 1961 and 1963. Red Mitchell, Chico Hamilton and Ed Shonk were also sidemen to Castro’s quartets and trios. Castro arrived in Las Vegas in 1970 and continued to play with vocalists, and in Las Vegas pit bands, until he was appointed the Tropicana Hotel’s musical director. Castro continued his performance in both Las Vegas and California jazz combos after he retired from the Tropicana. From Beckley, West Virginia to her death in June 2008, Castro was married for 41 years to Loretta Faith Haddad. Loretta graduated from Marshall University in Huntington with a music degree. She began singing in the Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs (West Virginia) from there. To pursue her singing career, she moved to Honolulu in 1966. She sang at the Outrigger Canoe Club, and she married Castro on October 21, 1966. Later, they moved to Los Angeles and eventually settled in Las Vegas. They had two children, James Castro, and John Castro. From Wikipedia

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