by Lola Rossi-Meza
It is not too late to make reservations to attend a fabulous New Year’s Eve Party at the Oasis Country Club, which is open to the general public, on Monday, December 31, at 8 p.m. Steve Alaniz plays his saxophones and flute as part of the Johnny Meza Band featuring Lola Rossi with guest percussionist Jack Pina. The event starts with the cocktail hour at 8 p.m. followed by dinner starting at 9 p.m. along with ringing in the New York New Year and guests dancing throughout the evening. For reservations call Mike at (760) 345-5432.
The following day, on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, at 2 p.m. Alaniz performs with the Jackson Garrett Band and Friends Annual New Year’s Day Veterans Benefit Concert at The American Legion Hall #519 located at 400 North Belardo Road in Palm Springs. Proceeds benefit “Operation Comfort Warrior” helping wounded Veterans from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, to Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington State. Band members include Alaniz, Chris Gore, Jeff Stover, John Pagels and David Ring with guest appearances by Darci Daniels, Mark Guerrero, Johnny Meza, Lola Rossi, Mikole Kaar and The Gand Band. A donation of $5 or more is appreciated. There will be a buffet available for purchase, for only $8. (760) 325-6229.
Born in Southern California, Steve Alaniz started playing the accordion and guitar when he was seven years old and the saxophone when he was nine. “My Father, Frank Alaniz played the saxophone. He introduced me to the 1965 Grammy Award winning album of all Jobim music performed by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. I would go to his band rehearsals and watch him play in different bands,” said Alaniz. “I come from a very musical family. My two uncles, Michael and Richard Alaniz, play the trumpet and another uncle plays the guitar. On my Mother, Olivia’s side of the family, several of my aunts and uncles sing.” His sister Monique plays the piano and flute. Her son Paul plays the flute and her other son, Christian, plays a little piano. His brother Mark is also a saxophone player.
Realizing Alaniz’s natural talent, after only a few lessons, his teacher, Craig Olson, gave him several recordings of great players like David Sanborn, Sonny Rollins, Cannon Ball Adderly and Spyro Gyra to inspire him. He performed in the orchestra and jazz bands throughout his high school years followed by Majoring in Music at Fullerton College. Like Alaniz, many of his high school and college classmates went on to become professional musicians.
“At one of my first professional gigs, I was playing a stage show with several well-seasoned union musicians. The singer was really very good and received a round of applause after he sang each of his songs. I thought to myself he was pretty good and it turned out the singer was Andy Williams.” Alaniz has worked with many top-notch musicians, was an “in demand” studio musician for a while and performed on many T.V. commercials and movie soundtracks. He worked on the Michael Jordan IMAX movie and on the Geena Davis movie, “Long Kiss Goodnight”, one of my personal favorites.
He married Trisha from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 12, 2003. As a matter of fact, we were born on the same day, October 3, the same year, however, she was born in the morning and I was born in the evening. Together they raise their Pot Belly Pig Sylvia and Steve loves to cook, especially his favorite dish from Thai Smile in Palm Springs, Chicken with Hot Basil. He performs many private parties with us, Mike Costley, Daymor Moses and Bob O’Connor, to name a few. He also performs with Bill Strout’s Big Band 2000 in Orange County and the Hix Big Band in Los Angeles.
Alaniz teaches part time at the University of La Verne; flute, clarinet and saxophone.
He also teaches for a non-profit organization called the Fullerton Friends of Jazz. “They send teachers out to public schools who have lost their funding. I go out to four different elementary schools in Fullerton for 10 weeks; Acacia Elementary, Woodcrest Elementary, Golden Hill Elementary and Raymond Elementary.” The Friends of Jazz send out a questionnaire to see who is interested, and the teachers decide who will participate, because this is a class that occurs during the school day. It is not an after school program, and currently, there are over 1,500 students taught by several different teachers at various schools. The requirement is that the students have to be able to perform a concert for their school after the 10 weeks of lessons. “I have been doing this for six years and now it is really showing. Some of the kids who started learning in elementary school are more knowledgeable, and now they are older and joining the high school bands, you can really hear the difference.”
He brings his own instruments to show them and performs for the students; however, the students are given a flute-like instrument called a “recorder” along with an instructional book, because they are more affordable. “We use the wind instruments to train them so they have a better idea about music in general. They learn a little bit about the brass instruments and the rhythms sections, but by the time they reach the high school band, they basically choose what they would like to play.”
When asked his opinion about the removal of music from most elementary schools across the United States, he had this to say. “I don’t think people really understand how important music is to the overall well being of the children. Learning how to play an instrument and learning how to read music involves a lot of special reasoning, it helps with memory and mathematical skills, it all ties in.”
You may contact him at SteveAlanizSax@gmail.com