What was supposed to be Dennis González’s next concert has turned into a musical spectacle celebrating his life and legacy.
Earlier this month, the Dallas music community lost a big one.
Dennis González, the beloved Dallas trumpet player and educator whose music received worldwide acclaim, died of health complications on March 14. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife Carol, his adult children, Aaron and Stefan, and his 8 year old. -old granddaughter Issy, with whom he recently collaborated on an art exhibition.
Known as the godfather of avant-garde music, González was a musical force in the community. His long musical career has never been based on a specific musical genre or project. His music, his teachings and his love for art reached and inspired different fans who saw him as more than just a musician. He and his two sons had a modest fandom and were quite famous in Dallas, as well as abroad, for their family collaborations, including their avant-garde and free jazz trio Yells At Eels, and musical careers. of Aaron and Stefan.
Those who adored Dennis will have the chance to come together to remember his legacy. Dennis’ next gig was scheduled to be April 10 at Wild Detectives, but it will now be a celebration of his life with his bandmates, family and friends performing in his honor, according to Stefan’s Facebook post.
The original lineup would have been a trio of Dennis, bassist Damon Smith and classic Kalam drummer Bob Moses, but now Aaron and Stefan will instead play alongside trumpeter Jawwaad Taylor. Also, instead of bassist Drew Phelps, who was a member of Dennis Ataraxia’s last trio, playing an opening solo set, all current members of the band, which has been renamed Ataraxia +2 since it now consists of five members, go open. This line-up includes Phelps, Jagath Lakpriya, Jess Garland and Derek Rogers with Chris Curiel replacing Dennis on trumpet.
Writer and musician Ken Shimamoto will begin the event with a spoken tribute.
Prior to this event, the Kessler Theater will host “Dennis González: Celebration of Life” on March 31 in honor of his long musical career, which spans from musician to educator and broadcaster. In the courtyard of the Kessler, there will be two brief musical tributes from Gregg Prickett and Chris Curiel, as well as speakers from the community, according to the Facebook event page.
“My dad was always in the community attending concerts, art shows, poetry readings, cultural events, and speaking at cultural events,” says Aaron. “A lot of people who support us, we talk to them and have interactions with them, so it’s not a faceless mask.”
Dennis was a musician known for playing free jazz and hard bop. In 1976, he and his wife moved to Dallas and founded the DAAGNIM label, which recorded local musicians. He became the host of KERA’s miles awaya show oriented towards free jazz and the avant-garde which then expanded to other styles, for twenty years despite the limits of the station.
“One thing about it, my dad was always like, ‘I’ll play whatever I want,’ Aaron says. “Whether it was news, classic jazz, or singer-songwriter, my dad always found a way to tweak that format to basically include whatever he saw fit that he wanted to play.”
Dennis was also an educator at Dallas ISD and taught mariachi music to children and teens at La Rondalla, the Oak Cliff-based nonprofit music association he founded in 2010.
Cover photo courtesy of Stefan González’s Facebook page.