Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Fuentes, Joe, guitarist, composer; b. Los Angeles, 1963. At the age of 4 his parents decided to migrate to Mexico City, Mexico where he spent his formative years and adolescence. He picked up his first guitar, a gift from his Mom, at the age of 6 and it has been his faithful companion ever since.
During his childhood, he was always exposed to a wide variety of music. The first musical act he followed was The Jackson 5. He was a big Michael fan imitating him as much as he could at the time. Then, influenced by his older sister Laura, he started listening to better quality pop music of the 70's such as Steve Wonder, Marvin Gay, Earth Wind and Fire, etc...
As he grew older, he started playing rock. His favorites were Queen, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. Joe was particularly interested in the guitar works of Brian May, always paying close attention to the orchestral qualities of his almost synthesizer-"sounding" electric guitar.
Being that his parents are Cuban, he always was exposed to some form or another of Latin music , be it "cumbias" at his Dad's annual company parties, or "salsa" when any of the family friends would come to visit.
Finally, he discovered Jazz. Again thanks to his sister who bought him his first jazz album: "CTI Jazz All Stars at the Hollywod Bowl". He heard George Benson playing 'California Dreaming' and was amazed. His music attempts to bridge the gap of all these different types of music with his latin roots. He began to play Funk and Latin Rock (ala Santana) inflecting a little jazz on the funk grooves and on the Rock changes. He had discover Fusioned. He started composing and had his first concert at age15 consisting of all original jazz oriented material.
Prompted by the warm reception of the audience, he decided to learn more about music. He attended the "Escuela Nacional the Musica" in Mexico City where he majored in music composition and received his classical training from Alejandro Salcedo, all while still attending High-School. Upon graduating from Hi-School, he deicided to go to college but he chose engineering as a major instead of his beloved music and after two less-than-satisfying years of engineering studies at the University of Mexico (Univesidad Autonoma de Mexico) he decided to migrate back to the States become a jazz guitarist.
By the time he was 20, Joe had already dabbled some with the idea of synthesizers and their use in contemporary jazz. Listening to Chick Corea with his Elektric Band became one of his favorite pastimes. He started getting into MIDI and MIDI-Guitars, and was completely fascinated by the Synth-Axe and considered getting one when he saw Alan Holdsworth using it.. He was inspired to really get into guitar-synths when he heard the signature "trumpet"-like sound of Pat Metheny .
While living in Los Angeles, he played in several Top 40 bands and Rock groups just to get some stage experience, and then formed an original Jazz trio, "Vital Crossing", which played at the "Overland Cafe" Restaurant every Saturday for almost a year. Influenced by the more commercial jazz sounds of Lee Ritenour and Bob James before they ever got together to play in Fourplay, he started composing in that style. He joined a jazz quartet called Elixir for a year.
He abandoned music as his main focus for a period of 16 to 18 months. Although he never abanodoned music completely, he re-claimed his passion for music and moved to San Francisco in 1994 and has played some casual and sporadic sub gigs in the South Of Market Circuit (Eleven, Paradize Lounge, etc...). He is always involved in some studio work with local musicians.
He is currently also very active with a New Music Composition Club in which they compose "new" music for traditional orchestral instruments as well as they explore the use of less familiar combinations of instrumentation.