‘Jazz in July’ returns with Gabriel Espinosa Band


Gabriel Espinosa’s story begins in Mexico, but ends when he plays and teaches music in central Iowa.


Jazz in July restarts Tuesday evening at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines.

Gabriel Espinosa, originally from Mexico, is headlining but has a great connection in Iowa.

The Central College of Pella initiated a study abroad program in the Mexican state of Yucatan in 1968, which caught the attention of a young Espinosa, who began to have a passion for music at the age six. It was a chance with teachers that would change his life.

“And they said ‘Why don’t you come to Central College, we have a music program and you could be a language assistant?” he remembers. “So I said, ‘I’m going to go to Central and get my basics of music,’ which I did. And I’m so grateful that I did.

Espinosa went on to study at Berklee College of Music and then north Texas to earn her masters degree.

“Then it all evolved and I ended up coming back to Central College. But the reason is that Central College started a program in Yucatan in 1968,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. I changed the white beach in Cancun for the white snow in Iowa. I’m so grateful for coming, I’m really grateful for Central College. “

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When you ask Espinosa about his sound that he has evolved over the years, he says he has a mix of The Beatles, Brazilian music and more.

But his real passion is composition

“My compositions are hybrid, very strongly hybrid between jazz and Brazilian music,” Espinosa told Local 5. “So you put them together and that’s what I write.”

Espinosa continues to teach at Central and Grinnell Colleges while performing solo and with her band around the world.

Thursday night on the Hoyt Sherman stage, he will have special guests who will join him with his group: six jazz singers from Valley High School. For Espinosa, this really highlights his passion for being a musician and educator.

“I love getting these kids to feel, to taste. Because you never know… that feeling tomorrow night, maybe one of them, could change their lives,” he said. “To feel the stage at that level with that kind of sound behind them… they might say, ‘I want to do this for a living,’ you know. And I love that part of what I’m teaching. ‘

Jazz in July is a free concert starting outdoors with The NOLA Jazz Band at 6 p.m. with headlining Gabriel Espinosa Band indoors on stage from 7:30 p.m.

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