Joe Posada Proves Staying Power with Five Tejano Music Awards Nominations
Classy, saxy and innovative are some adjectives that have used to describe Joe Posada, a mainstay in this city’s music scene for 44 years.
This year, the ageless, versatile musician is nominated “Best Entertainer,” “Best Vocalist” and also in the “Best Vocal Duo” category for “Si Cocinas Como Caminas” in duet with Leslie Lugo. That same tune also received a “Song of the Year” nod and “Hermosa Soñadora,” recorded in a rhythmic boss nova groove was nominated the “Crossover Song” category. Both tunes are both off Posada’s “Point of View” compact disc, his latest release.
“By the time I finished elementary school, I was already a member of D.R. and The Interiors, a group of kids from around the San Juan Courts,” Posada said during an interview at his luxurious Westside home bearing the same address where he grew up.
“D” stood for David Casas on bass and “R” was vocalist Robert Gómez. Posada, saxophone; Greg Araiza, guitar; and Raúl “Ito” Reyes, drums; made up the rest of the band.
In 1967, a then 13-year-old Posada recorded his first 45 rpm single, “Por Ultima Vez,” as the sax player of Fito Riojas and The Sensations, which consisted of Daniel “Dumbo” Saldivar, Posada, Joe “Corky” Rodriguez, Cruz “Gole” Velásquez, Raúl Jiménez, Paul “Polito” Riojas, John Gallardo, Fito and Jesse González.
“I didn’t start singing until I joined Rudy Tee and the Reno Bops and Red Gonzales had me doing backup vocals on some songs,” the 56-year-old horn-man said.
A brief stint with Jesse Vallego’s Zapata followed and as Posada said, “When Joe Jama was going to quit, David Marez lobbied for me and took Óscar (Lawson) and Henry (Hernández) to listen to me. The Jesters used three-part harmony and I became one of their three voices in the ‘The Band’ album.”
In 1976, he was voted into the Mike Chávez All-Pro Band by his peers. By 1977, Marez had quit the Jesters to form People and Posada followed. One year stints with George Morín and Momentus plus Al Sturchio before Posada formed El Quinto Sol in June, 1982.
Before the year was over, he had recorded “Orale” and “Fuiste Tú,” his first single as a solo artist for Manny Guerra’s AMS Records; and “25 Corazónes” featuring “A Primer Vista” on the flipside for Bob Grever’s Cara label.
The following year, the singer-songwriter-musician won the Texas Association of Spanish Announcer’s El Zenzotli Award for “Best Tejano Group” and Posada was on his way to becoming a living legend. In 1984, he received his first Tejano Music Awards nomination for “Male Entertainer” and in ’85, his first nomination for “Male Vocalist,” not to mention countless nominations for “Single, Song and Album” plus “Duo” of the year nominations eventually winning “Best Tejano Horn Musician” and “Best Specialty Instrument” for playing the wind tone generator as he began to fuse and unify jazz, soul and polka thus making him stand out among a slew of conventional cookie-cutter groups.
“I now also play the ‘ewi’ (an electronic wind instrument),” the 2005 Tejano Roots Hall of Fame inductee added.
Along the way, Posada started carving a path jazzing up Tejano music with his innovation licks thus becoming a high-demand studio musician on recordings by Lisa Lopez, La Mafia, Mazz, La Fiebre at Eddie Alemán, Manny and Joey López’s Zaz recording studios as he simultaneously continued to churn out one Quinto Sol album after another on Cara, Capitol and EMI Latin; plus a CD with his son, Joe Posada Jr. for Fonovisa in early 1998.
“Right after that I dropped out of the scene because Tejano music was too accordion-spanked and at the time I was not using too much accordion in my music,” Posada said. “And at that time, my career was not going anywhere.”
This is when Posada turned to his first love, jazz; and for seven years he became a fixture in the Alamo City’s jazz circle as he performed and recorded with various jazz artists with a new look since he also shaved off his mustache, cut his hair a little shorter and started wearing a fedora.
“During this period, I also studied music theory, piano and basics at San Antonio College because I got the notion of being a music teacher.”
It was also during this musical seven-year itch that the world discovered Posada’s lyrical phrasing and timing with a song was comparable to Tony Bennett, who Frank Sinatra once described as a singer’s singer. This is especially evident in his “Here’s Looking at You” CD.
Another few hidden talents is that with the exception of his proficiency as a flute player, few people realize that Posada also plays accordion, piano, guitar and bongos. “In fact, I use the guitar and piano to compose many of my songs,” he said.
After EMI Latin, Discos Sony and other national labels abandoned the Tejano music genre, in 2004 and now a grandfather, Posada decided to form his own record company and produce other artists. And he named it Baby Dude Records because when his five grandchildren would come to the home, he would say, “hey, it’s the baby dudes.”
“Then and Now” was the perfect title for the first CD because he re-harmonized ten of his greatest hits and updated them with snazzy new sophisticated arrangements turning them into a multi-genre blend and making them a listener’s delight. Then he added five jazz tunes to educate and give his fans a taste of that genre. Best of all, the album garnered a coveted Grammy Award nomination.
His second album, “Amor y Fuego” received a Latin Grammy Award nomination. Then he produced “Corazon de Oro” for David Marez and that Baby Dude CD also got a Grammy Award nomination. To top it off, his third CD on his own label, “Despacito” earned a Latin Grammy nomination. This is the album which features a genie coming out of a saxophone and that was his daughter Analisa’s idea.
His “Friends and Legends” CD produced another Grammy Award nomination and “Yo Fui El Culpable” in duet with Jay Perez won the pair “Vocal Duo of the Year” at the 2008 TMA.
And the year before, the Taurus won the “Mejor Latin Jazz Album” at Premios a La Música Latina with “Jazzano” in which his flute playing mesmerizes the listener with “The Wright Choice.” That CD includes “Brazilian Moon” and “Up and In,” two more instrumentals that translate to sheer listening pleasure.
In view of the fact that Posada did not venture far after his re-entry into the Tejano market makes the number of Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations quite an achievement.
“A Grammy would be nice, but I’m not disappointed at all,” Posada said. “Happiness is playing a living doing music. That’s the secret of success for me. Before, I was looking for success when it was right here at arm’s length.”
As to why Posada re-entered the Tejano, he said, “One day I turned on the radio and everything seemed so pre-packaged and microwavable. So I said, ‘Somebody has to put their heart and soul into it.’ And what helps me on the sales end are distributors as Chano Elizondo. He’s the mero mero.”
As this writer scanned walls plus shelves and shelves full of certificates, ribbons, medals, trophies and other forms of awards, I realized it would take at least two full pages of this e-online news-server just to list his countless accolades. I had already compiled a comprehensive biography and discography and now I had another twelve pages of notes full of information, including the fact that Posada is also the author of “Sax: Technique of Actual Return” in which he explains cyclic sequence and other music terminologies beyond normal comprehension.
What is important for RiverCityAttractions readers is that each week, they can see the multi-Grammy nominated artist perform each Tuesday at Chacho’s on Callaghan Road, each Thursday at Chacho’s at Perrin Beitel, and at the 517 Lounge in Landry’s each Friday and Saturday. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he fills up the rest of his weekly calendar doing private corporate events at the San Antonio Convention Center.
As to the passing of the torch, Laura Ann Anderson plays guitar, Joe Jr. plays drums for his father, and Analisa plays violin, piano and flute, but is a part of the film industry in Hollywood and New York. None took up the drums, which was the first instrument he initially chose to play.
Furthermore, Laura Ann and Joe Jr. have made Joe and Rosalyn, his wife of 34 years, the grandparents of perhaps five more musicians with Matthew James, Zacchaeus, Christian, Joshua and Mia.