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RIP JT. A few words about Denver bassist Jimmy Trujillo.

Last night Denver area bassist Jimmy Trujillo passed away due to a heart attack. I met J.T. when he and a couple of other players from Denver based Cojunto Colores coached a salsa band that my wife Andrea Merida and I played in at Metro State College. He was very generous with his time teaching us about latin jazz and Salsa. I listened to him for years on local jazz radio station KUVO where he hosted a Sunday afternoon show called Salsa con Jazz. A year or two before Tito Puente died Andrea and I saw Cojunto Colores open for Tito here in Denver. During Tito’s set Jimmy was asked to join Mr Puente onstage to sit in on a couple of tunes. I was like, “Wow, I actually know that guy!” Of course he played his ass off!

When Andrea was running for the Denver school board we asked J.T. to come play a fundraiser for her campaign. I was pretty nervous playing with him for the first time.After we played Sonny Stitt’s tune The Blues Walk J.T. told me he had played with Sonny. He wasn’t bragging, he was just letting me know. He put me at ease right away!

This past summer J.T. was instrumental in getting our first Gumbo le Funque album on KUVO. He also helped us get a slot to play live on a Friday afternoon before our Sunday gig at City Park Jazz. That live shot helped us promote the concert that had well over 12,000 people in attendance. It was the most folks I had ever performed for and the second biggest crowd City Park Jazz ever had.

In September J.T. played three hits with Gumbo le Funque. He played amazingly as usual. We were hoping to collaborate on some more  gigs this winter. As a matter of fact I put on my to-do list yesterday these two words, “Call J.T.”. I really wish I had called him.

Jimmy Trujillo was a kind, generous, giving person. A man who had played with many important musicians from the jazz world, yet was willing to take a gig with us at local clubs and a wedding. He was a musician’s musician, humble, talented, full of great stories and advice on the music business. And so funky! Damn, that cat was cool. You will be missed!

Here he is, playing with us last month.

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