The Best Trumpeter I Could Be

Tales of Tortilla Factory, a Texas Chicano band

By Tony Ham Guerrero
Published on LatinoLA: February 12, 2007

The Best Trumpeter I Could Be

As young kid I always wanted to be the best trumpet player I could be. My heroes were always Chicano trumpet players that I knew about or had been lucky enough to have met.

The first trumpet player I really have always had in my mind was a man by the name of Kiko Miranda from Sweetwater, Texas. He was actually my very first teacher at the age of eight because a gringo teacher my grandfather had hired to give me lessons said I would never play the trumpet.

Kiko lived in the Barrio in Sweetwater and had room where he cut hair for a living. He was actually a barber and he had a thriving business from what I remember. The year was 1953 and I was anxious to learn.

And learn I did.

There was nothing else on my mind except to be the best trumpet player I could be. I had no idea who Clifford Brown or Dizzy Gillespie were yet because I had no exposure to their music.

I however was around a lot of Chicano musicians that inspired me through their playing and the ideas I picked up from listening to them. Some of these musicians [Tejanos] were already making a name for themselves and some were legends.

Mr. Pepe Compean, trumpet player, arranger, and composer, which I refer to as the father all Tejano trumpet players. Luis Gasca friend and mentor, Victor Reyes a trumpet virtuoso who excelled at the Classical or jazz genres, Raul Cuesta, tenor player who I thought was John Coltrane until I saw him. Rene Sandoval who is Texas's version of Cannonball Adderly. Joe Gallardo who we refer to as our own [Latino] "Quincy Jones".

These are just a few of the heroes that inspired me to play and perform and they are Chicanos just like me.

Much has been written and talked about so many black and anglo performers and I'm sure they deserve all the credit they have recieved but in my mind, the musicians I just mentioned by name are world class players and I feel compelled to mention them because they have been an inspiration to me, My Band, and so many musicians all over the world.

My band, Tortilla Factory, has been blessed to have had all these musicians except Mr. Pepe Compean and Kiko Miranda perform with us. Tortilla Factory is already rehearsing and we will be touring again soon.

I love Califas and can't wait to come perform in the land of 1000 dances.

About Tony Ham Guerrero:
Tony "Ham" Guerrero: trumpet player, band leader, music producer, A husband and family man.

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