Tucked away from the sprawl of Los Angeles, nestled off the 605 Freeway, lies one of Jazz music’s best kept secrets. A composer, renegade, and wanderer whose musical journey is gaining a second wind. Garrett Saracho has lived many lives, from being a fresh-faced signee to Impulse Records in the early 1970s to working on blockbuster films to touring with his cousins’ iconic rock group Redbone decades later. But while his stories have always been pushed to the background, this next chapter finds him standing tall at center stage.
As a teenager, he befriended and began playing with luminaries of the Watts jazz scene, brought together by Horace Tapscott’s legendary Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, and would go on to bring the same musicians with him to Westwood and Laurel Canyon as a UCLA college student. When he finally emerged with a record deal, it was in proper fashion- he was Impulse Records’ first debut signee in several years, praised by the New York Times as “the Impulse West Coast Contingent”.
As far as debut records go, 1973’s “En Medio” is lightning in a bottle. A singular statement, effortlessly fusing spiritual jazz with funk and latin rock, recorded just in one weekend in lateMay. Amidst the backdrop of an oil embargo in the middle east, however, “En Medio” was an unfortunate casualty of a ruthless industry looking to cut costs. With little fanfare, the vibraphonist-turned-pianist who once played with Jimi Hendrix disappeared behind the scenes of movie studios, building sets and eventually editing feature films.
Today, Garrett’s work has found renewed interest, with a new generation of jazz fans rediscovering “En Medio”, which has been long out-of-print and unavailable on major streaming platforms. His latest adventure finds him in the studio with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhmammad, recording his first new music in decades for the venerated Jazz Is Dead series. While many have yet to learn the name of this living legend, they are already well-acquainted with the lineage he comes from, the icons he learned from, and the groove he embodies.