Keywords: Latin America, Colombia, Cuba
A native of Colombia, reedman, clinician, composer and arranger, Justo Almario has fused Latin, Afro-Cuban, South American, funk and jazz genres into his own humble offering. Mr. Almario studied at the prestigious Berklee School of Music before a stint with Mongo Santamaria as the band’s musical director. Justo has performed with Patrice Rushen’s Grammy Awards Orchestra, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, George Duke, Tito Puente, Machito, Dave Grusin, Ndugu Chancler, Alex Acuna, Abraham Laboriel, TOLU, Donald Vega, Harold Land Jr. Al Mckibbon, Master P, Bebe Winans, Queen Latifah, Charles Mingus, Chaka Kahn, Linda Rondstadt, Herb Alpert, Bobby Shew, John Heard, Lorca Hart, Billy Higgins“Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars," and many others.
A multi-instrumentalist of the highest caliber, Mr. Almario has mastered the soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute. Justo thoroughly engages his listeners with rhythmic, call-and-response interludes. John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bach, Bartok and Debussy are among Justo’s primary influences.
Almario also has experience as an educator: he taught saxophone at Cal State Los Angeles from 2006-2008; he has taught in clinics throughout the United States, as well as in Sweden, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico; he taught at the Henry Mancini Institute, has mentored youth during workshops at the World Stage in Los Angeles, and has taught students privately for over 20 years. In 1992, while joining the ranks of Cedar Walton, Terrence Blanchard and Joe Lovano, Almario was an integral part of the Newport Jazz Festival Tour, produced by George Wein. Two years later, four of the recordings on which Justo was featured earned Grammy nominations while Andrae Crouch’s “Mercy,” and Cachao’s “Master Sessions, Vol. 1,” were Grammy winners. Justo’s latest CD, “Love Thy Neighbor,” features his quartet playing original compositions as well as rare standards. A man for all seasons, Justo was the featured soloist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Hall’s season opener and also performed at the Christmas concert, “Celebrar,” at the same venue. Finally, Justo’s stellar career was recently celebrated during a segment of “World Stage Stories,” a comprehensive oral history series that chronicles the evolution of jazz.