Don Tosti Interview

Don Tostu

Don Tosti Interview Part 1: (44:43) LISTEN HERE: Don Tosti Pt. 1

Don Tosti Interview Part 2: (42:19) LISTEN HERE: Don Tosti Pt. 2

Interviewed by Manuel Peña

Date: March 12, 1993


Language: English

Original Recorded Media: Cassette

The interviews by Manuel Peña on this website were originally recorded for research purposes only, and are presented here in their raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. They were often recorded in conditions adverse to obtaining  good audio quality and often using very basic recording equipment. All rights to the interviews are reserved by Manuel Peña. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Rag Dorris, Bill Costagino, Don Tosti
Don Tosti with Charlie Barnett

Introduction by Manuel Peña

Edmundo Martínez Tostado, whose stage name became Don Tosti, was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1923.  He exhibited musical talent at an early age, and by his twelfth birthday he was playing violin with a local group, La Orquesta Muro.  A ranchero-type known as an orquesta típica, the Muro ensemble actually played a good deal of American music, much to the satisfaction of Tosti, who in his youth evinced a strong dislike for ranchera music.

True to his more cosmopolitan tastes, Tosti eventually moved to Los Angeles, where, in 1942, he formed a “jaitón” (“hightone,” or sophisticated) orquesta.  Shortly after, Tosti’s talent led him to the American big-time, where he played bass with some of the leading dance bands in the U.S., including Les Brown and Jimmy Dorsey.

Don Tosti and Trio
Don Tosti and Trio

Meanwhile, in the late forties he leaped into the pachuco (Zootsuiter) vogue then rampant among Mexican American youths in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the Southwest, recording a classic hybrid song, “Pachuco Boogie,” which combined the caló, or argot, of the pachuco with the African American-inspired boogie.  This and “Chicano Boogie” established Tosti as a pioneer innovator in the evolution of Mexican American music.

Don Ramon, Jada "Chartita" Martinez (Tosti's sister), Sheriff Eugene Bizcaluz & Don Tosti holding his first record.
Don Ramon, Jada “Chartita” Martinez (Tosti’s sister), Sheriff Eugene Bizcaluz & Don Tosti holding his first record.

For the next forty years, Tosti was one of the shining lights in the Los Angeles music scene, where he moved effortlessly between and among a myriad styles ranging from latino/tropical to jazz.  His final years were spent playing solo keyboard in nightclubs and restaurants in Palm Springs, California.

Tosti died in Palm Springs on August 2, 2004.

Music Examples:


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