The group includes Ramon Banda on drums, Tony Banda on bass, Francisco Torres on trombone, Javier Vergara on saxophone & flute, Chris Barron on piano, and Leo Corona on percussion. The Original Banda Brothers have played for 24 years as the anchors of Pancho Sanchez Grammy Award winning Latin Jazz Group. The Banda Brothers are also creators of a hand crafted Shekeres “beaded gourd” percussion instrument. This instrument is a favorite of world leading percussionists. The Banda Brothers were commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. to create Shekere for their new exhibit entitled “Latin Jazz; La Combinacion Perfecta”. This bilingual exhibition explores the history, cultural content, musicians, places, instruments, and dance aesthetics behind the development of this musical genre. This exhibit will be shown in 15 cities over a four year tour across the U.S. and Caribbean. These unique Shekeres will be available for purchase soon. The Banda Brothers grew up in the city of Norwalk and began performing at the ages of 5 and 7 years old. They learned to play traditional Mexican songs in a lively west Texas style, and learned to play American standards, classic Cha Cha’s, and R&B music. The Banda Brothers have played with Pancho Sanchez for over 34 years, and have played with many jazz and Latin greats that include Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Cal Tjader, Freddie Hubbard, Carmen McRae, Mongo Santamaria, Celia Cruz, Chick Corea, Willie Bobo, and dozens of others. Their influences range from Rahsaan Roland Kirk to Hank Williams. The Banda Brothers merge Afro-Latin music with American jazz bringing insight and imagination to jazz and Latin originals and classics.
Trombonist Francisco Torres has been the director of Grammy Award winning Pancho Sanchez Latin Jazz Group, and been part of Grammy Award winning Claire Fischer Big Band, and Grammy Award winning Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Francisco has produced several Pancho Sanchez recordings that have received 5 Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Recording. Francisco has played on over 35 recordings with over 50 different groups. He has played on 5 film soundtracks, and over a dozen TV and Award Shows. Francisco has played with 10 of LA’s best big bands, and is an in demand clinician and guest artist. He is the director of S.C.S.B.O.A. All-Star High School Jazz Band. Francisco has arranged, composed, and been commissioned to write for several high school and university jazz big bands. Francisco helped Jose Rizo create and conceive Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars, which is a collection of LA’s best Latin Jazz musicians.
Woodwind specialist Javier Vergara, and native of Mexico City doubles on saxophone and flute on a wide range of tunes. He has been a main stay with the Banda Brothers for over 20 years. His sound and energy is a bright spot for this group.
Keyboardist Chris Barron is a composer, arranger, and educator who has played with the Banda Brothers for over 25 years. Chris doubles on acoustic piano and synthesizer, and is heavily involved in music education in the LA area. Chris has created a music curriculum for youth K through 5th grades, and teaches woodwind, and horn sections at the LA College of Music. Chris is director of the Integrated Music Academy creating musicians one group at a time by Music Language Immersion. He is also music director of the Mariners Church. Chris has composed music for a PBS special, and applies his multi-talented skills in nearly every aspect of music. Chris has worked with Michael McDonald, Leon Ware, Jimmy Haslip of the Yellow Jackets, Chuck Negron, Celia Cruz, Jose Rizo’s Latin Jazz All-Stars, and Pancho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. Chris has also worked on several different film and TV projects.
Percussionist Leo Corona plays a wide variety of styles that include Latin, funk, Brazilian, Ballero, Danzon, and Caribbean music. Leo has worked regularly with the Irving Flores Latin Band, and Daniel Lopez Infanzon Band. Leo is active in the San Diego Latin and jazz music scene.