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February, 2016

Los Jazz Vatos have recorded a new CD titled “El Jefe!”


El Jefe Cover Art

Available at iTunes and CDBaby

(MP3 files available at iTunes and CDBaby. Lossless FLAC files and MP3-320 files are available at CDBaby.)



Long-awaited hardly covers the 13 years between El Jefe and its sole predecessor. Remarkably, the personnel of Texas Tornados drummer Ernie Durawa's formidable sextet has stayed intact. Bassist Brad Taylor and keyboardist Terry Bowness round out the rhythm section, laying the foundation for a strutting, three-horn front line in Jimmy Shortell on trumpet, Freddie Mendoza on trombone, and Steve Vague manning sax. The band remains tight, fluid, daunting, slashing its way with precision through Mendoza originals "6th Street Messin Round," "Melissa," the title track, and closer "Jay Jay's Blues." Mendoza also arranged most of the disc, including a hip reading of Herbie Hancock's "Isla de Cantaloupo." A refreshing outlier is Los Vatos' rootsy take on singer-songwriter Rich Minus' dreamy border ballad, "Laredo Rose," with Shortell on accordion. The wait was worth it.

Jay Trachtenberg, the Austin Chronicle ****


Down in central Texas San Antonio/Austin way, drummer Ernie Durawa is most definitely El Jefe. He's been playing since grade school in the '50s, and was for many years seen as Doug Sahm's drummer du jour. Of course, there have been countless jazz gigs, a run as Delbert McClinton's preferred sticks man, and even a time on the throne with Joe "King" Carrasco's legendary outfit El Molino. Now Durawa runs one of the best jazz groups in the state, and makes albums that can hold their head high wherever they're played. His latest affair somehow tops them all, with sax and trumpet soloists who could walk onto any bandstand in the country and make a superb showing. Los Jazz Vatos are just bad-ass; that's all there is to it. There is plenty of Latin flair, but there's also bebop, straight ahead, and even a touch of fusion. In the end, it's how it's played and not what style it is that counts the most, and know that when Ernie Durawa steps behind his drum kit and calls a tune, things are going to happen. El Jefe is in the house.

Bill Bentley, The Morton Report


Ernie Durawa – Executive Producer Freddie Mendoza – Producer

Jimmy Shortell – Co-Producer Steven Vague – Associate Producer

Mixed by Freddie Mendoza, Jimmy Shortell, and Rob Hinton Recorded by Rob Hinton at Mesa Recording Studios in Del Valle, Texas Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Inc.

Jimmy Shortell – trumpet, flugelhorn, and accordion Freddie Mendoza – trombone Steven Vague – tenor saxophone Terry Bowness – keyboards Brad Taylor – bass Ernie Durawa – drums Mark Rubenstein – piano on Lindo San Anto Jose Galeano – percussion Rick McRae – guitar on Laredo Rose and 100 Ways

Jimmy Shortell endorses S. E. Shires Custom Brass Freddie Mendoza endorses Getzen Custom Series Trombones

Ernie Durawa endorses Innovative Percussion Drum Sticks, Evans Drum Heads, Paiste Cymbals, and Yamaha Drums


Tracks 1, 5, 6, and 11 – composed and arranged by Freddie Mendoza Tracks 3, 7, and 9 – arranged by Freddie Mendoza Tracks 2, 4, 8, and 10 – arranged by Pat Murray

Special thanks to Annie Steele for the rehearsal space in her home, to the boys in the band for their great contributions, Rob Hinton for his studio expertise, and Scott Ward and Loungeside Records


Cover art by Kerry Awn

1 – El Jefe (Freddie Mendoza)

2 – Ted’s Groove (Tom Dempsey Music BMI)

3 – Isla de Cantaloupo (Hancock Music Company HFA)

4 – Lindo San Anto (Randy Garibay BMI)

5 – 6th Street Messin’ ‘Round (Freddie Mendoza)

6 – Melissa (Freddie Mendoza)

7 – I Told You So (George Cables HFA)

8 – Laredo Rose (Rich Minus Music BMI)

9 – Conjunto (Arturo Sandoval HFA)

10 – 100 Ways (Benjamin Wright HFA)

11 – Jay Jay’s Blues (Freddie Mendoza)




















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Cover image is copyrighted by the National Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, Sweden