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Louis Valenzuela turns Fakebook into Realbook

Monday jazz jam moves to East Village

Not all heroes wear capes: Louis Valenzuela
Not all heroes wear capes: Louis Valenzuela

When Howard Mandel, President of the Jazz Journalists Association, emailed Louis Valenzuela to congratulate him on being selected a Jazz Hero by the organization, the guitarist almost missed it. “I didn’t recognize the name,” says Valenzuela. “The subject line said ‘jazz hero,’ and I thought that sounded spammy, so I just deleted it. I had to go back and drag it into my inbox from the trash.”

Monday Jazz Jam

It’s taken some time for the gravity of the honor — one also bestowed upon Gilbert Castellanos, Daniel Atkinson, and Holly Hofmann — to set in. “Well, my girlfriend says she’s gonna have to get me a cape!” jokes Valenzuela, who was nominated for his tireless work livestreaming local jazz concerts during the pandemic. Now that live music is resurgent, he’s re-opening and relocating his Monday night jam session, moving from Rosie O’Grady’s in Normal Heights to Amplified Ale Works in East Village.

“It’s like a normal bar-restaurant upstairs, but downstairs there’s this really cool space designed by Aubree Miller called The Acid Vault. There’s no cover charge, and it’s open to everyone, so we’ve been getting a lot of [Gilbert Castellanos’ Young Lions Jazz Conservatory] students coming in, like [saxophonist] Nick Caldwell. Last week, we brought in [guitarist/luthier] Victor Baker, and [trombonist] Matt Hall is coming up, performing music from his new CD. Also, we’ll have someone like [Lyrical Groove frontman] Kendrick Dial come in and do a spoken-word, R&B soul type thing.”

Valenzuela is also building an online resource called San Diego Realbook, taking its name from unlicensed “Fakebook” music transcriptions and collecting San Diego musician charts. “I’ve organized them on my website through a Google drive link. And basically, anyone can access these charts. They can’t edit them, but they can download them.” The database features 25 to 30 composers including pianist Ed Kornhauser, bassist Rob Thorsen, and drummer Nathan Hubbard. A possible result: Monday jam session guests can now play each other’s music on the spot.

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Not all heroes wear capes: Louis Valenzuela
Not all heroes wear capes: Louis Valenzuela

When Howard Mandel, President of the Jazz Journalists Association, emailed Louis Valenzuela to congratulate him on being selected a Jazz Hero by the organization, the guitarist almost missed it. “I didn’t recognize the name,” says Valenzuela. “The subject line said ‘jazz hero,’ and I thought that sounded spammy, so I just deleted it. I had to go back and drag it into my inbox from the trash.”

Monday Jazz Jam

It’s taken some time for the gravity of the honor — one also bestowed upon Gilbert Castellanos, Daniel Atkinson, and Holly Hofmann — to set in. “Well, my girlfriend says she’s gonna have to get me a cape!” jokes Valenzuela, who was nominated for his tireless work livestreaming local jazz concerts during the pandemic. Now that live music is resurgent, he’s re-opening and relocating his Monday night jam session, moving from Rosie O’Grady’s in Normal Heights to Amplified Ale Works in East Village.

“It’s like a normal bar-restaurant upstairs, but downstairs there’s this really cool space designed by Aubree Miller called The Acid Vault. There’s no cover charge, and it’s open to everyone, so we’ve been getting a lot of [Gilbert Castellanos’ Young Lions Jazz Conservatory] students coming in, like [saxophonist] Nick Caldwell. Last week, we brought in [guitarist/luthier] Victor Baker, and [trombonist] Matt Hall is coming up, performing music from his new CD. Also, we’ll have someone like [Lyrical Groove frontman] Kendrick Dial come in and do a spoken-word, R&B soul type thing.”

Valenzuela is also building an online resource called San Diego Realbook, taking its name from unlicensed “Fakebook” music transcriptions and collecting San Diego musician charts. “I’ve organized them on my website through a Google drive link. And basically, anyone can access these charts. They can’t edit them, but they can download them.” The database features 25 to 30 composers including pianist Ed Kornhauser, bassist Rob Thorsen, and drummer Nathan Hubbard. A possible result: Monday jam session guests can now play each other’s music on the spot.

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