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Anthony Ortega

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  • Born: Los Angeles, CA
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

A talented and advanced improviser, Anthony Ortega never received that much recognition and has been in obscurity for far too long. Ortega had his first major job with Earle Spencer's Orchestra in 1947. After serving in the Army, he was with Lionel Hampton's big band (1951-53) including for Hamp's ill-fated European tour. He played with Milt Buckner, led his own group in Los Angeles, visited Scandinavia in 1954 (which resulted in an Lp for Vantage) and then in 1955 relocated to New York. Ortega had stints with Nat Pierce (1956-58), Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Paul Bley and the Quincy Jones Big Band (1960). From then on he often led his own group, moving back to Los Angeles by the mid-1960's and working with the big bands of Don Ellis and Gerald Wilson. As a leader, in addition to the Vantage album, Ortega has recorded sets for Bethlehem, Herald, Revelation (including a 1967 session that was reissued on CD by Hat Art) and Discovery (1978); the latter featured his wife Mona Orbeek Ortega on piano and vibes.