Saracho To Perform En Medio In Its Entirety For First Time Ever July 15 In Los Angeles As Part Of Grand Performances Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series
En Medio Due July 7Via Impulse! Records/UMe
Los Angeles – May 19, 2023 – In 1973, Garrett Saracho was an ambitious 23-year-old jazz musician from East Los Angeles, having just released his debut album, En Medio (as Gary Saracho) on Impulse! Records, representing what the New York Times praised as the label’s “West Coast contingent.” Despite receiving a five-star review from DownBeat magazine, the authority on all things jazz, which led to friend Herbie Hancock calling and congratulating him on the perfect review, praise from Wayne Shorter, and interest from famed concert promoter George Wein to take Saracho on tour in Europe, a cosmic confluence of unfortunate events – an oil embargo in the Middle East, changing label leadership, slashed budgets – led to En Medio not receiving the promotion and ultimately not gaining the traction it so deserved at the time.
Disappointed, the composer and keyboardist, who had come up in L.A.’s fertile jazz underground alongside notable figures such as Azar Lawrence and was later mentored by Lalo Schiffrin and David Raskin while studying at UCLA, shelved his dreams of stardom to return to school. He would go on to have a successful career in the film industry, first as a carpenter, later as an editor for several blockbuster films, more recently as a screenwriter and filmmaker. He’d eventually return to music, touring with the legendary Native American rock band Redbone, fronted by his cousins Pat and Lolly Vegas, and after retiring, would continue to quietly make music in his home studio in Southern California. In the last several years, however, Saracho’s work has been rediscovered by a new generation of aficionados, with the long out-of-print and previously unavailable on streaming platforms En Medio being regarded as an incomparable and peerless hidden gem in the Impulse! pantheon by crate diggers and deep listeners.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, En Medio will be released back on vinyl July 7th via Impulse!/UMe. The LP, which has been mastered from the original tapes, was released as a limited edition exclusive for Record Store Day Black Friday in November 2022 and will now be available widely due to popular demand. Pre-order En Medio here: https://garysaracho.lnk.to/EnMedioPR
To mark this half-century milestone, Saracho will return to the stage as band leader for the first time in five decades to perform En Medio in its entirety for the first time ever Saturday, July 15th, as part of Grand Performances’ free outdoor concert series at the California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. This show will be the first time that Saracho has performed any music from En Medio on stage since shortly after its release in 1973. The last time Saracho performed live was more than 14 years ago as part of Redbone.
“This concert is bigger than me or my music,” Saracho says. “It’s my tribute to Los Angeles – the city of my father, my uncle, my family, the city that raised me, and so many others whose stories need to be told.”
As far as debut records go, En Medio is an impressively realized vision. A singular statement recorded over Memorial Day weekend in May 1973 at The Village Recorder in West L.A. with a host of professionals with varying levels of association to the Union of God’s Musicians and Artist Ascension (UGMAA), a network of largely African American jazz musicians organized by Horace Tapscott that acted as a community resource, linking artists together and helping them find work. This included bassist Roberto Miranda, who had previously performed with Saracho in the Herbie Baker Quintet and would become a longtime mainstay in Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (PAPA), percussionist Bashir Hassan, who had also played on Walter Bishop Jr.’s excellent Keeper Of My Soul album for Black Jazz Records that same year, saxophonist Patience Higgins, who would go on to log sessions and tours with Muhal Richard Abrams and Bernie Worrell, and Owen Marshall, a Compton-based arranger and multi-instrumentalist who had previously worked for Lee Morgan.
After spending nearly fifty years away from the music industry, Saracho’s musical journey has gained a second wind. In addition to the long overdue reissue of En Medio, last year he collaborated with the influential jazz label Jazz Is Dead for his first commercially available release since En Medio on the exciting return to form, Garrett Saracho JID015. Available now, the album sees Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge performing a collection of shapeshifting tunes with Saracho that shifts from one style or tempo to another with reflexive ease. Blending together cinematic soul, Latin funk and psychedelic influences alongside his enduring love for jazz, the album is a tribute to the enduring ties and cultural dialogues between genres, and to the perseverance of a musician who once stood on the precipice of stardom, now receiving his long overdue acclaim. The album was met with glowing praise, with Mojo awarding the album four stars and declaring it “arguably Jazz Is Dead’s best LP yet,” and hailing the music as “sounding like a David Axelrod-meets-Gil Evans mash-up as imagined by Cal Tjader, the LP consists of eight ensemble pieces, ranging from edgy soundscapes (Altitude) and filmic tone poems (The Gardens) to percolating Chicano grooves (El Cambio Es Necesario).” All Music declared it “one of the label’s standout releases due to its sophisticated charts, engaged, kinetic ensemble play, and complex yet accessible compositions.”
With an incredible new album and a long-lost gem returning, Garrett Saracho is finally getting his due, five decades later.