Updated: 4/27/2021 09:44Jose Rizo
Jazz on the Latin Side
Jose Rizo was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and raised in Oxnard, California. He played trumpet in high school, but it wasn’t until he was a student at U. C. Santa Barbara that he developed his passion for Jazz. As a UCSB student, Jose founded and produced the annual Cinco de Mayo Dance Concerts, where he began to work with such artists as Poncho Sanchez, Cal Tjader, Pete & Sheila Escovedo, Tierra and Los Lobos. Jose also founded “Radio Chicano” at KCSB 91.9 FM at UCSB, and trained fellow students to produce Chicano-Latino radio programming. Rizo served two years as KCSB radio station program director. Jose Rizo also founded and hosted “La Voz de la Raza” public affairs radio program on Santa Barbara top-40 radio station KIST 1340 AM and “Barrio Salsoul” music program on KCSB 91.9 FM.
Jose Rizo began hosting “Jazz on the Latin Side” on KLON 88.1 FM, now KKJZ (KJazz), on January 7, 1990. He was intricately involved in organizing KLON’s “Latin Jazz Club Caravans” and KLON’s “Cinco de Mayo Latin Jazz Dance Concerts”. In the early 1990’s, produced through KLON, Jose Rizo also hosted the daily afternoon show “Jazz Goes Latin” On EuroJazz Radio in Europe, based in the Netherlands.
Since the early 1990’s, Jose has served as a member of various Jazz and Latin Music Grammy committees as well.
Jose was also the artistic director of the “Luckman Fine Arts Latin Jazz Concert Series”, where he worked with Eddie Palmieri, Poncho Sanchez, Dianne Reeves, Jerry Gonzalez, Ozomatli, David Sanchez, Los Lobos, Giovanni Hidalgo, among many others. Jose also founded the very memorable “KJazz High School Jazz Festival”, where he would pair-up top Jazz musicians to perform with top Los Angeles Area high school Jazz ensembles.
Rizo has been involved with the “Central Avenue Jazz Festival”, serving as artistic director since its inception in 1996. The “Central Avenue Jazz Festival” focuses on showcasing great Los Angeles-based Jazz musicians like Barbara Morrison, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Ernie Andrews, John Clayton, Poncho Sanchez, Harold Land, Billy Higgins, Kenny Burrel, Alfredo Rodriguez, Carmen Lundy, Arturo O’Farrill, Kamasi Washington, Anthony Wilson, Justo Almario, Bill Henderson, Patrice Rushen, Arthur Blythe, Charles McPherson, Gilbert Castellanos, Ndugu Chancler, Oscar Brashear and many others.
In 2007, the “Jazz Journalists Association” awarded Jose Rizo the “A Team” Award for his work with the annual “Central Avenue Jazz Festival”. In 2005, he was inducted into the “Jazz Monsters Hall of Fame” at SOKA University of California in Aliso Viejo.
Jose Rizo has served as music curator for the annual AltaMed fundraiser “East L. A. Meets Napa” for almost 20 years now. Jose was also the artistic director of the annual “Latin Jazz and Music Festival” under L. A. City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo.
Rizo founded, and is the bandleader, of the “Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars”, a powerhouse Latin Jazz Big Band. In 2000, he formed the “Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars” a few months after a jam session at B. B. Kings, which celebrated the 10 year anniversary of his radio show “Jazz on the Latin Side” on KLON 88.1 FM. This group has recorded two JazzWeek top-10 albums on the Saungu Records label, co-owned by Jose and his wife Leticia Rizo: “The Last Bullfighter” & “Tambolero”. Performing members of the “Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars” have included Justo Almario, Alex Acuna, Marvin Smitty Smith, Danilo Lozano, Francisco Torres, Poncho Sanchez, Francisco Aguabella, Kamasi Washington, Gilbert Castellanos and guests Maraca, actor Andy Garcia, Kenny Burrell and Hubert Laws. They have performed at the “Playboy Jazz Festival”, The Greek Theater, Yoshi’s in Oakland and the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.
Jose Rizo formed a second all star latin-Jazz ensemble made up of world-class musicians called “Mongorama”, inspired from the Charanga-Jazz explorations of Mongo Santamaria during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The debut, self-titled “Mongorama” album received a Grammy Nomination in 2011, featuring master musicians like Hubert Laws, Poncho Sanchez, Justo Alamario, Danilo Lozano and Oscar Hernandez. The second “Mongorama” album, “Baila Que Baila”, featured guests Kenny Burrell and Poncho Sanchez. The 3rd album, “Mariposas Cantan” was also a highly critically-acclaimed album. Mongorama was invited to perform at “Plaza Jazz” The Habana International Jazz Festival in Cuba. With both bands, Jose has recorded 7 albums that include 30 of his original compositions.
Jose Rizo is currently a daily on-air radio personality on KJazz 88.1 FM, hosting 3 on-going radio programs:
“Jazz on the Latin Side”, Fri (8-11pm) & Sat (6-10pm), since Jan. 7, 1990 (33 yrs)
“Jazz with Jose Rizo”, Mon to Fri (3-5pm), since Aug. 31, 2020
“Bop, Straight Ahead”, Mon-Thurs (8-9pm), Sun (9pm-12am), since Jan. 4, 2021