If one were to describe the musical career of David Urquidi, it would be definitly be one filled with diversity. Born and raised in the big melting pot that is Los Angeles, it is easy to see why this is true. Whether it is traveling the world playing with the legendary band WAR, playing with great Jazz and Latin Jazz artists, or leading his own groups, Urquidi feels right at home.
Urquidi first began to play the saxophone at age 10. Beginning on the baritone saxophone, it was at this time that he began to take an interest in jazz. His grandfather, an avid jazz fan, bought him the records of Lester Young, Ben Webster, Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges. These recordings had a profound effect on his musical development. He continued to play in school ensembles until forming his first band in high school called “Yeska”. Originally formed for a school talent show, the band took off and became very popular in Los Angeles. The Yeska sound was coined “Skafrocubanjazz”. Under Urquidi's leadership, Yeska went on to release two albums to much critical acclaim. National and International tours soon followed and Urquidi's musical career was well under way. In fact, one of Urquidi's compositions for Yeska was used as the theme for the Showtime series "Latino Laugh Festival" in 1997.
Urquidi continued to work as a freelance musician in Los Angeles during this time, and attended the USC School of Music. It was here that Urquidi began to form his own musical voice. His original compositions and arrangements helped him become the Assitant Director of the USC Latin Jazz Ensemble called “ALAJE”.
Upon graduating the USC School of Music, Urquidi decided to disband Yeska in order to further expand his musical horizons. He then formed the "David Urquidi Latin Jazz Quintet" which regularly performed in the top local jazz clubs. An unreleased recording of the group even received regular airplay on the KJAZZ 88.1fm show “Jazz on the Latin Side”. This caught the ear of the legendary conga player Poncho Sanchez who liked what he heard and quickly hired him. Urquidi then spent the next two years arranging, recording and touring the world with Poncho Sanchez on the baritone saxophone. He can be heard playing on Sanchez' release “Do It”. Urquidi's arrangement of Duke Ellington's “Fluerette Africaine (African Flower)” was recorded on this album.
Following his time with Poncho Sanchez, Urquidi continued to broaden his musical experiences. He worked as a freelance musician in Los Angeles and founded another unique band, “L.A. Plena”. The first and only group of its kind in Los Angeles, L.A. Plena is a group dedicated to the performance, development, and preservation of the Puerto Rican Plena and Bomba. Although of Mexican heritage, Urquidi formed the band in an effort to preserve this indigenous music and represent it in Los Angeles. L.A. Plena has performed at many universities, museums, cultural festivals and clubs in Southern California.
In 2007, Urquidi began an important musical relationship with Lonnie Jordan, the leader of the 70's supergroup “WAR”. Following the release of his solo album, Jordan hired Urquidi to play with his group called “The Lonnie Jordan WARtet”. Playing original arrangements of jazz standards and WAR repetoire, the WARtet played many concerts in the U.S. and Japan. In 2011, he was invited by Jordan to join the legendary band WAR. He can currently be seen playing saxophone and flute with the band all over the world. When he is not with WAR, Urquidi continues to work with his own groups as well as other artists. These great musicians have helped Urquidi form a diverse knowledge base that forms his musical voice.
As a saxophonist, Urquidi has performed and/or recorded with:
WAR, Poncho Sanchez (2003-2005), James Moody, Hugh Masekela, San Diego Symphony, Sheila E., Andy Montanez, Jose Alberto "El Canario", Average White Band, Taboo (of the Black Eyed Peas), Pete Escovedo Orchestra, FEAR, Fred Wesley, Cano Estremera, Linda Hopkins, Little Willie G., Francisco Aguabella, Lonnie Jordan WARtet, Nestor Torres, Steve Turee, Tiger Army, Jack Johnson, Tevin Campbell, Don Omar, Rico Rodriguez, Leonard Dillon “The Ethiopian”, Ernie Andrews, Joey DeFrancesco, John Santos, Oscar Hernandez, Jimmy Bosch, Oskar Cartaya, Bryan Lynch and numerous others.
While leading his own bands, Urquidi has performed at:
Montreaux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Montreal Jazz Festival (Canada), Pori Jazz Festival (Finland), Cancun Jazz Festival (Mexico), UCLA Jazz Festival (LA), Central Avenue Jazz Festival (LA), The Greek Theatre, Hollywood Palladium, House of Blues, The Knitting Factory, MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Autry National Center, The Edye Theatre, and Catalina Bar and Grill.