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A tribute to the music of Walt Disney

L to R: David Lopez, Donnald Duck, Adam Carrillo, Tyler Jackson
Nathan Cone
L to R: David Lopez, Donnald Duck, Adam Carrillo, Tyler Jackson

Brandon Guerra and Adam Carrillo are both children of the 1990s, and grew up during the “Disney Renaissance,” a time of renewed creativity from the studio that yielded classic films like “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and “Aladdin.”

“Those movies were so impressionable,” Guerra said. “My parents bought all the VHS tapes and we would watch them over and over again.”

Not only were those movies successful as stories, but the music was a highlight as well. Alan Menken, Elton John, Randy Newman, as well as lyricists Tim Rice and Howard Ashman were as much a part of the success of the films as the Disney animators, and the songs are integrated into the plot like the best Broadway musicals.

In a way, the idea of a Disney-themed jazz show seems only natural, since so many of the early jazz standards were based on stage shows.

“A lot of people at the time knew those melodies,” Guerra said, referencing early jazz standards. “I think sometimes [at a typical jazz gig] there can be a definite disconnect between audience and musician, because the musicians know all the records and all the obscure jazz melodies, but then maybe the audience doesn't, whereas now we're kind of doing this thing where everybody there knows every song that we play. And I think it makes it more of a connected experience, more of a two way street.”

As a co-arranger of the set, Adam Carrillo said the song structure surprised him when he dug in with Guerra.

“The melodies are very memorable,” he explained, which would seem to imply that the music is probably easy. But instead, “we both discovered this music is very complex, if not harder than ‘jazz,’ which kind of blew my mind. In my own musical playing away from Disney-related stuff … I’m using a lot of those concepts that I learned from the Disney show.”

The “Tribute to the Music of Walt Disney” show has been hugely successful for Jazz, TX and both Guerra and Carrillo say there are plans for a Volume Two or Three that would dig into even more of Disney’s rich musical history.

Live at Jazz, TX airs Saturday nights at 7:00 on TPR. Location audio for this set was recorded by Nathan Cone and Erika Howlett.

Brandon Guerra sitting at a drumset.
Nathan Cone
Brandon Guerra at Jazz, TX.