A Passion For Music

Pat playing Trombone with the Balboa High School Dance Band (1963)

Pat had a strong passion for music which was, of course, supported by Estrella (a talented pianist and organist) as well as Canuto who gave Pat his first instrument, a trombone, at age 13.  Pat’s interest in music, specifically jazz, came about due to his wanderings in Chinatown and North Beach during the time of Estrella’s transition away from Alvin.  Pat would listen to the sounds emanating from the jazz clubs.  At nine years old, while standing outside the once popular Coffee Gallery on Grant Street, Thelonious Monk spotted Pat at the doorway and asked the shy little boy if he liked what he heard.  At first, Pat was terrified to answer, but gathered the courage to tell the jazz great, “yes.”  Years later, through constant and dedicated practice, Pat would become an excellent jazz trombonist in the SF Bay Area music scene.  He mastered both the slide and valve trombone.  

Pat Playing Trombone with BHS (1963)

a teen, Pat played in the Balboa High School (BHS) Dance Band and formed several teen bands, some of them at the same time, playing Jazz and Funk.  He played in the College of San Mateo Marching Band where he would perform at Disneyland and the Junior Rose Bowl.  In the late 60’s, Pat would play at the underground black clubs that dotted the Fillmore and North Beach areas where he would hone his jazz chops until the wee hours of the morning.  In order to enter the club, you either needed to be black or a musician.  “Pat would have his trombone and stroll right past the bouncers who knew him and join the musicians on stage,” says Dan Gonzales who accompanied Pat on many of these nocturnal outings.  “I didn’t have a case because I played piano.  The bouncer would ask where my instrument was, and I would tell him I couldn’t carry it.”  In the early 1970’s, Pat played for Herbert Mims Funk Band, filled in to accompany touring singers like Barbara Mason, and was a busker in the streets of SF where tourists flocked.  

Pat and his trombone in one of his 70's bands.

In the late 70’s, he would also play with Bobby Veloso’s band and played all over the SF Bay Area on weekends from Friday to Sunday Nights.  He encouraged his younger brothers to play music—Timothy plays piano and sings with the SF Symphony Chorus and performs with several Bay Area choirs.  David played the saxophone and was a member of the US Air Force Jazz Band. By the end of the decade, Pat’s love of Brazilian music inspired Pat to form Oxalá (“to hope” in Portuguese pronounced O-sha-la), playing Latinized hard bop, spiritual jazz, instrumental soul and bossa nova. “Pat and I played many jam sessions and gigs together during a very memorable six-month period in 1978,” says Saxophonist Paul Vornhagen. “We would go to the Cheshire Cat in the Haight-Asbury district for a jazz session on Sunday nights. He would encourage me to get up there and play my heart out which he did every time with that big beautiful sound coming out of his trombone. We also formed a band together called Oxalá in which we played lots of Brazilian-styled jazz. One memorable gig was at his alma mater, San Francisco State. Jose Sierra on congas and percussion, Max Villanueva on guitar, Roscoe Woods on bass and other players. We would practice at his house on Bowdoin Street on the south side of San Francisco. He was my musical big brother.”