Jazz show features Ray Obiedo


FAIRFIELD – Ray Obiedo started playing drums in the eighth grade. As he neared high school graduation, he saw Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore. And, soon after that, Eric Clapton with Cream.

Obiedo came to the realization the guitarist is more important than the drummer. After all, the guitarist stood at the front of the stage.

So, he took his drum set to Leo’s Music in downtown Oakland and traded it for a guitar just like Clapton’s. But the heart of a drummer remains with him.

“I write everything from a drum groove,” Obiedo said on the phone. “I wish I had stuck with the drums.”

His 13-year-old son now plays drums.

“He hangs out with the coolest guys and certainly the cutest girls. It’s very impressive (that he plays drums) to everyone at school,” Obiedo said.

Obiedo is part of an evening of Latin and Smooth Jazz on May 22 at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts. He’ll bring his band Mambo Caribe with him.

“The title of the band describes what we play,” he said. “Mambo Cuban (music) is based on mambo-like, salsa-style music, even though salsa is a dance. We play West Coast Style. Anything in the West Coast is a little more laid back.

“We play a little Latin, Caribbean and throw in some Brazilian. It depends on the mood we are in.”

Mambo Caribe started out as five members and has grown to eight. Much of its music, Obiedo said, is funky
and improvised.

Obiedo also works as a record producer and engineer at his home studio, recording other artists.

“I’m producing everyone else’s stuff,” he said, adding that leaves him little time to do a new album.

But it’s that income that pays the bills, he said.

When he signed with Windham Hill Records, Obiedo said he was paid a “nice advance.”

“Now when anyone does a record, you have to finance it yourself. It’s expensive. You have to pay your musicians, for publicity,” he said.

Obiedo and Mambo Caribe will also be part of the annual Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee Memorial Day weekend in Sacramento.

Also appearing are 2nd Planet. The group will soon release its second CD, “The Next Level.” The band’s first CD, “Beyond the Surface,” was released back in 2003.

Clarence Williams is organizing the concert and also plays with 2nd Planet.

“I love his music,” Williams said of Obiedo. “I’ve been listening to (it) the past 20 years. His music is excellent. If there is any such thing as a perfect musician, he’s as close as you get. His live performances are pristine.”

The band, 2nd Planet, hopes to have its new CD available at the show. Regardless, the audience will hear music from it at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts.

A solo effort from Williams in 1998 launched 2nd Planet. Soon he was joined by Theodore Valentine on bass and Gene Guere
on drums. Keyboardist Alex Dedal also joined the band.

That lineup was together for six years. Ron Menefed is now on drums and Marvin Eguia on keyboards.

“The whole idea behind the band is to record and play original music,” Williams said.

The group has played the Sunday afternoon jazz series in Suisun City for many years. And, in 2005, the band played at the FCCA with Paul Jackson Jr., who is in the “American Idol” band and also worked on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Williams hopes the show is just the beginning. “In my vision, I want to get more and more local artists involved,” he said. “The concert is all about bringing good music to the community. I would like to continue to host really, really good concerts to the community in upcoming years.”

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net.