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Latin jazz from the Bay Area to the world — and back

The White House / Samantha Appleton
Bay Area Percussionist Pete Escovedo at the White House.

For more than 50 years, Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz sound has reached people around the world — but it all started here in the Bay Area.

Escovedo was born in Pittsburg — and his musical journey began in Oakland.

His latest album, Back to the Bay, is a tribute to those roots. This weekend the legendary percussionist and his orchestra will host a concert at Yoshi’s to celebrate his 83rd birthday.

KALW’s Jenee Darden spoke with Escovedo about how his family — and Oakland itself — shaped him into the artist he is today.

"My mom used to say, 'Stop beating on those drums and get a job.' So she got me a job at a cannery. I hated it."


Jeneé Darden is an award-winning journalist, author, public speaker and proud Oakland native. She hosts the weekly arts segment Sights & Sounds and covers East Oakland for KALW. Jenee has reported for NPR, Marketplace, KQED, KPCC, The Los Angeles Times, Ebony magazine, Refinery29 and other outlets. In 2005, she reported on the London transit bombings for Time magazine. Prior to coming to KALW, she hosted the podcast Mental Health and Wellness Radio.