Don Tosti [1923–2004]
Don Tosti, born Edmundo Martinez Tostado in El Paso, Texas in 1923, grew up in the infamous Segundo Barrio in El Paso, Texas. Opportunities in public music programs protected him in a neighborhood with a tough reputation.
At age nine he was playing second violin in the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Six years later, he relocated to Los Angeles, California and took saxophone lessons after being inspired by Ernie Cáceres, a Chicano who played in the Glen Miller Orchestra. He soon gave up the sax for the acoustic bass which he mastered quickly. In high school he became the concertmaster for the All-City High School Orchestra.
His extraordinary talents landed him a job with Jack Teagarden’s orchestra in 1943 when he was just 19. Shortly after, he got other jobs playing with artists like Les Brown, Charlie Barnet, and Jimmy Dorsey. In 1948 his jazz, boogie and blues blend in "Pachuco Boogie" became the first million-selling Chicano song. In the 1950s he was given his own TV show Momentos Alegres (Happy Moments) on KHJ-TV Channel 9 in L.A. where he influenced a new generation of players.
Throughout his career he continued to be an exceptional musician and composer.