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Gary Julius Eisenberg

1951 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Gary Julius Eisenberg Obituary
January 14, 1914 - November 2017 Gary Eisenberg, an L.A. native, was born on January 14, 1951, at Temple Hospital in Silver Lake. He passed away of natural causes during the week of November 6th, 2017, at the age of 66. When he was about 2 or 3 years old, it was evident to his parents that he was to be a musician. Having heard recordings on 45 rpms, he would pick them up and put them to his ears to listen. As a child his father asked him if he wanted to play an instrument. Gary wanted to play drums. His father didn't want the noise, so he asked him to select another instrument. Gary picked the trumpet, and his family had to deal with it. Gary became an important figure in the world of the Los Angeles salsa music scene. He began playing salsa at the age of 19. He was a music major at USC, and while working at a fashion district shipping department he heard salsa for the very first time. He heard the music being played on a portable record player by a fellow employee, Lázaro Valdez, an Afro-Cuban conguero. From there he was hooked and was mentored by Lazaro. They both later played with Orlando López, (aka, Mazacote), another L.A. salsa legend, whom he also considered a mentor. Gary credits his ability to create "moñas" for the horn section and ensemble dance steps to trombonist, Eric Matos who played in the original Willie Colón band. The golden era of the Los Angeles salsa scene was from the 1970s into the '80s. The greatest band of that time was the Johnny Nelson Band which became synonymous with the Candilejas Nightclub on Sunset Blvd. They were the hottest band in town for many years. The second hottest band after Nelson's with whom Gary played was Azuquita's, nee Camilo Agumedes. Gary also played many years with the "Godfather of Salsa," Johnny Martínez. The list of bands with whom he played would fill pages, but he also got to play with Celia Cruz and Tito Puente (among other greats) when they played in town. Gary was still being called by bands up until very recently. What is not so well known about Gary is that he was a really fine arranger. Check out Mazacote's band on YouTube (from many moons ago) playing his arrangement of "Delirio." Gary takes a beautiful soulful trumpet solo on it. He was given the opportunity to play on one song on the Grammy nominated CD, "Caravana Cubana," where he arranged and played on some of the horn sections. Gary was a man of many talents: musician / arranger, writer, visual artist, photographer, etcher / printer, wood worker, web designer, and on, and on. He also had a love and an impressive knowledge of classical music and jazz. One of the greatest gifts to our city's salsa community is his website: garyeisenberg.net. Gary was often seen lugging his video and audio recording equipment (even large reel to reel tape decks) along with his instruments to his gigs. On his website he took the time to document and insert inside stories of virtually all the bands with whom he played along with other musicians and bands in L.A. Thanks to his website, you can view and listen to these recordings and read their background stories. This documentation rivals any scholarly published works on the Los Angeles salsa scene, and yet, it's only the tip of the iceberg. He would be very honored if those who remember him would visit his website and journey on a grand tour of the Los Angeles salsa scene and its history. Gary Eisenberg is survived by his brother, his wife, his stepson, and former wife. Gary was a true one of a kind renaissance man who will be missed by many. "Hecha pa'lante y nunca pa'tras, Gary."
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19, 2017
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