Texas State student gears up for Grammys as Tortilla Factory trombonist
By Billi London-Gray
“When I first received the call about the nomination, I thought it was a joke,” says Texas State University music studies major Max Garza. “I really didn’t believe it until I got on the Grammy website and checked it for myself.”
Garza is a member of the Austin-based Chicano band Tortilla Factory, whose 2010 album Cookin was nominated for Tejano Album of the Year. Tortilla Factory’s 2009 release, All That Jazz, was also nominated for a Grammy.
Tortilla Factory was originally put together by trumpeter and composer Tony “Ham” Guerrero in 1973 as a musical fusion of Tejano, big band jazz, rock and funk. According to the band’s Facebook page, their sound combines “American music and the old Mexican folkloric songs, rancheras,” to create “the unique Texas Chicano sound.”
The band went on hiatus in the late 1980s but reunited, with some personnel changes, in 2000. Since 2006, Guerrero’s son Alfredo has stepped up as the band’s leader and primary vocalist, sharpening Tortilla Factory’s sound with a modern edge.
Garza, who has played the trombone since the age of 11, started playing with Tortilla Factory about two years ago.
“I had some friends from the university playing in the band a while back, and they needed a trombone player for a rehearsal,” Garza says. “I got my horn and went, and at the end of rehearsal, Ham Guerrero asked if I would like to be the sub for the trombone player at the time.”
After rehearsing and performing as a substitute for a year, Garza was invited to join the band on a full-time basis.
“I would love to take the performance route and travel, but I am pursuing my music education degree,” Garza says, who will graduate with a bachelor of music in music studies in 2012. “I want to be able to help other kids have opportunities like I have had.”
As for the Grammys, Garza is looking forward to making the trip to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony on Feb. 13.
“I am pretty stoked,” he says. “It’s still hard for me to believe. It’s going to be crazy once I put this on my resume.”
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