I have been blessed to know Jose “Crunchy” Espinoza for about fifteen years. He is one of Los Angeles' finest musicians in a town of many great talents. You probably don’t know him by name but you have heard his work through the music of Ozomatli (he was one of the co-founders of the group) and The Salvador Santana Band. He has also done plenty of session work with the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, Blackalicous and Money Mark, just to name a few. Crunchy, a multi-instrumentalist who plays sax, flute and percussion, has been leading various Jazz groups in recent years. One of the groups is the monstrous, Cuban Funk inspired Ubalaye, which has the sickest collection of L.A. based musicians in one band. He took some time off from touring to finish his masters degree in Afro-Latin Music at Cal State L.A. Since then, besides recording and gigging, he has been teaching music for grade school students as well as raising his own kids.
This year has been tough one for Jose. He has been fighting cancer most of the year and has gone through stretches where the doctors have advised him not to play. Still, Crunchy continues to write music and you can hear some of his pieces on Sunday, December 5th at a show entitled “Crunchyfest” at the California Institute Of The Arts (CalArts). On The bill will be The Cal Arts Salsa Band, Cava, Salvador Santana, Sono-Lux and Crunchy-led Umbalaye. The event is free but donations will be accepted to help Crunchy with his medical expenses. The show is from 12 pm to 6pm. For more info please click here.