Gabe Baltazar

Wednesday - March 28, 2007
By Kerry Miller | Share

Gabe Baltazar
Gabe Baltazar

March must be Gabe Baltazar’s month. The 77-year-old famed jazz saxophonist was recognized twice this month for his achievements and contributions as a musician.

Baltazar was honored March 10 at Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts’ Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He was honored along with Rene Paulo, the Society of Seven, the Surfers and the late Loyal Garner.

Baltazar is especially proud that the jazz music category and its musicians are receiving recognition for a music genre that he calls “an American art form.”

“It’s an honor,” says the MidWeek cover man from July 2001. “It’s a labor of love. Jazz was originated in America just like baseball and apple pie.”

The Music Foundation of Hawaii presented Baltazar with a Lifetime Music Achievement Award at its second annual Legacy Awards March 21, also at the Royal Hawaiian.

“I performed with the UH jazz orchestra. It was swinging. People (were) tapping their feet,” he says.

Proceeds from the Legacy Awards benefited the University of Hawaii’s Music Scholarship Program, which Baltazar says “is nice to see things happening for music organizations.” The evening also lauded Karen Keawehawaii, Danny Kaleikini, the Makaha Sons, Palani Vaughan and others.

Elsewhere on the music scene, the energetic jazz man says he got “a very good feel” from performing opening night of the recent “Return to Romance” music festival at Waikiki Shell.

Fans can catch his next performance at noon April 4 at Kawaiahao Church in a special show for the church’s celebration of the season of Lent.

Besides music, Baltazar has wife Rose and their 7-year-old dog Penny, to keep him on his toes.

“Penny listens more to my wife - she’s a smart dog,” he laughs.

The couple’s recent move to Waialua has also made life busy. There’s been a lot of “in and out, carrying this, carrying that,” Baltazar says.

“My arthritis started acting up. The mind says ‘go,’ the body says ‘slow down.’”

Once he and Rose are all moved into their new home, Baltazar thinks he’d like to get time in on the golf course, but for now, he says, “I’ll probably do some swimming instead.”

- Kerry Miller

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Most Recent Comment(s):

Gabe Baltazar is one of those persons that has dedicated their lives to the preservation of the great music that is Jazz.  I am a huge fan of his work.  I’m a student in Los Angeles and though I’ve never heard him perform in person, I’ve enjoyed many of his recordings.  An arrangement of Mr. Baltazar’s that I really enjoy is Santanas Europa. 

I heard it performed by the Mount San Antonio College big band.  I’ve actually tried very hard to find that arrangement with the alto sax feature but, I’ve had no luck thus far. 

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