Saying goodbye to a cool cat: Jazz trumpeter Art Juarez

It’s been a tough week helping my dear friend Ellen McCarthy plan the memorial for her husband, the uber-talented but laid-back cool band leader and jazz trumpeter Art Juarez, who died October 3 after a devastating war with kidney disease.
But sadness was put aside over the weekend as we gathered for a celebration of Art’s life. At the end of the many tributes from family and friends, three of Art’s jazz buddies brought down the house with a rousing rendition on trumpet and drums of “The Saints Go Marching In.” I have to believe Art would have loved that one.
Arthur F. Juarez
4 Art playing trumpet with Dom

Art playing with his son Dominic

Art Juarez, 73, Bay Area musician and long-time East Bay resident, died peacefully at home on October 3, 2015, surrounded by his family. The cause was kidney disease.

Born December 5, 1941, in Oakland, Art was drawn to music at an early age.  He took up the trumpet—always his favorite instrument—at age ten and soon joined the renowned California youth marching band, the Weldonians. After graduating from Fremont High School, he studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

Following college, Art moved to Nevada, where he spent a decade playing in top Las Vegas hotel show bands behind legends such as Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Anita O’Day, and Johnny Hartman.

Art with his group The Fuglehorns

Art with his group The Fuglehorns

When he returned to the Bay Area, he served as assistant music director of the Peabody award-winning children’s TV series Villa Alegre, which appeared on PBS from 1973 to 1980. It was the first national bilingual (Spanish/English) program in the United States.

After leaving Villa Alegre, Art was named music director for the nationally syndicated TV news-magazine, Over Easy.  The Emmy-award-winning daily series ran on PBS from 1977-1982 and was hosted by Hugh Downs and Mary Martin.  As music director, Art scored music for documentaries and provided live bands to support the show’s musical performers.

1 Ellen & Art striped dress

Art and Ellen in the early eighties

While working at Over Easy Art met and later married his wife of 34 years, Ellen McCarthy.

Also during this time, Art founded Keynote Music Services, which provided live entertainment for private and business functions around the Bay Area. Keynote sponsored the holiday music group The Fabulous Flugelhorns, where Art and the group played his arrangements of holiday and other popular melodies. Under the Keynote umbrella, Art produced many short film soundtracks for the Walt Disney Network and independent producers. He also played in various Bay Area jazz, Dixieland, big band, and mariachi groups.

2 Art w 3 kids

Art with children (L-R) Avelia, Dominic, and Desiree

Toward the end of his life, Art enjoyed reminiscing about his musical journey and displayed an astonishing memory for musical scores and performances as well as people, places, and events. His talents reached beyond music. He was a creative photographer and had begun to write a humorous memoir when he became ill with kidney disease.

Art w Christian

Art with grandson Christian

Art is survived by his wife, Ellen McCarthy, daughters Avelia and Desiree Juarez, son Dominic Juarez, and grandson Christian Chavez.