“The Baltazar tale is a personal and musical history exuding charm, wisdom, and wit throughout a hero’s journey in sound.” —Honolulu Weekly (7–13 November 2012)
“Open it on almost any page and it will be difficult to stop reading. Written in conversational style with assistance from music fan Theo Garneau, Baltazar’s book will appeal to several distinct audiences, including jazz fans and longtime Baltazar admirers. His stories of life here in the ’30s and ’40s will fascinate anyone with an interest in what things were like ‘back in the day,’ while another section of the book shares an insiders’ look at the national jazz scene of the ’50s and ’60s.” —Honolulu Pulse (6 July 2012; read the full review: http://tinyurl.com/7b72szl
“Gabe Baltazar is a living example of the rare Asian American jazz musician who enjoyed a national and international career, one that took place during an important transitional period when jazz was being transformed from a popular idiom into a bona fide tradition. His story provides insight into a real working jazz musician’s life with all its headaches, victories, defeats, and joys.” —Kevin Fellezs, Columbia University
“Told in Gabe’s own down-to-earth, inimitable voice, this is the first book-length autobiography of a Hawai‘i jazz artist. In relating his story, Gabe also documents a largely ignored chapter in the history of Hawaiian music that includes the popularity of big band jazz, the kama‘āina musicians that scene fostered, and their role in Mainland jazz.” —Jim Tranquada, Occidental College
Author: Baltazar Jr., Gabe; Garneau, Theo;
Gabriel Ruiz Hiroshi Baltazar Jr. rose to national and international acclaim as the alto saxophone soloist for the Stan Kenton Orchestra from 1960 to 1963. A fertile period for the Kenton orchestra, the group recorded over a dozen albums and won two Grammy Awards for jazz. From 1964 to 1969, Baltazar worked and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Oliver Nelson, and others. During this period he was also a regular in the Los Angeles recording studios, where as a fluid multi-instrumentalist he filmed with Pat Boone, Phyllis Diller, and Glen Campbell and many others. Baltazar returned to Hawai‘i in 1969 to work as assistant director for the City and County of Honolulu’s Royal Hawaiian Band, a post he held until 1985. From 1969 until 2009, however, Baltazar maintained an active agenda as a jazz artist, recording many albums as leader and sideman. Throughout this period, he returned often to the West Coast and occasionally to Europe. Born in Hilo, Hawai‘i, in 1929, Baltazar is the most influential figure in jazz in the history of Hawai‘i.
Theo Garneau holds a PhD in English and master’s degrees in French and English from the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, where he teaches English. He has a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York, Potsdam, and works professionally as a classical and jazz guitarist. He has published in various venues on jazz, translation, biography, and music in fiction.