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 SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE

January 27, 2010

 

Orlando's caters to professionals and students alike 

Author: Michelle J. Mills Staff Writer

Section: Business

 

If you hear a sweet saxophone or tootling trumpet as you drive through El Monte, you may be near Orlando's Wind Instruments. Owner Orlando Castaneda began repairing horns and providing custom work for professional musicians, friends and music stores in 1969. "In 1988 I started my own company because I'd been doing it for so many years for everybody else," he said.

 

Castaneda's client list features trumpet players Lee Thornburg and Paul Litteral and saxophonist Red Holloway, as well as groups like Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Mariachi Divas. He also works with Pioneer High School in Whittier, South Hills High School in West Covina and the Covina Valley School District, as well as with such stores as the Fret House in Covina. He began playing clarinet as a child and went on to tenor saxophone, which he played professionally at age 14 with bands from East Los Angeles. He majored in music at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and Cal Poly Pomona and now plays all the brass instruments and some strings. "I deal with pros all the time so I know all the picky things pros like," Castaneda said. "I know a lot about the instruments that other people don't know."

 

Castaneda has teamed up with a factory in China to create his instruments, and the two also opened Gulf Music USA as an import company in America. In 1990, he began his student line and later created a professional saxophone line, with other professional brass instruments following quickly. Up until 2009 Castaneda was working out of the garage at his West Covina home. His son finally convinced him to move to a warehouse in El Monte, but two months later the economy collapsed. "We started focusing on the Mexican bands, I changed my market and my repairs saved me," he said.

 

When he first started out, Castaneda served many of the instruments used by mariachi, bandas and taborasos. But over the years, some of his customers lost touch with him. Reaching out again, he has gained back former clients and continues to add to his roster, including both local artists and those from Mexico. For these customers he is making custom trumpets set up in the "old style" sound favored for Mexican music, and he will have also modified trombones ready this year. "For the bandas I have a valve trombone," he said. "I don't know why, but Mexicans ... we like a big bell sound. Even my saxophones have a big bell sound to them."

 

Mexican musicians often have their trombones cut in length, which alters the key from C to B flat. That can result in tuning problems and other issues. But Castaneda's line is produced in B flat and is in tune off right off the shelf.

Castaneda is also reaching out to the community. While teaching music in middle and high schools, he met Buddy Collette, the co-founder of JazzAmerica, a Hollywood-based, tuition-free jazz education program for children in Southern California. He began referring his students to the program, but this year he was told that the classes were full. Instead of giving up, Castaneda stepped up, offering his warehouse as a teaching venue.

 

JazzAmerica/East for children ages 15-19 will meet Saturdays from May to September, providing free education for all instruments used in jazz. The only rule is that the participant must commit to attending all of the rehearsals and performances.

Slated instructors include trumpet player Ray Ponson, saxophonist Don Mesa and Paulie Cerra, saxophonist and pianist. Joseph Monte, a music historian from Covina, will also teach about the history and background of jazz and related genres.

"These guys are tops in the field," Castaneda said. "We've got mariachi schools, which is nice, but we don't have anything for jazz."

 

The group will present five to six concerts during the session at venues such as Covina Park, El Monte Senior Center and the Sweet & Hot Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.

For more information on Orlando's Wind Instruments or JazzAmerica/East, call 626-523-0069 or visitwww.orlandobandinstruments.com. Also visit www.jazzamerica.org.

michelle.mills@sgvn.com

626-962-8811, Ext. 2128


 

(c) 2010 San Gabriel Valley Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.
Record Number: 14271569


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