Anthony Caceres has a warm and friendly voice, a swinging style, and the desire to create fresh renditions of superior material, whether it is standards of the past, his originals, or performing current pop tunes into jazz. He is also one of the few artists around today who is very comfortable singing and playing the string bass at the same time.
The 2019 release of Something’s Gotta Give, his third project as a leader is a major step forward for the bassist-singer. The trio/quartet album has him joined by pianist Stefan Karlsson, the great drummer Jeff Hamilton, and on some numbers guitarist David Mooney. “I really love Jeff’s playing because he always swings and knows how to play with a vocalist. Stefan Karlsson is an amazing pianist who I’ve known about for many years but hadn’t had the chance to work with. And I called up David Mooney for some of the numbers. He is an excellent soloist and we had both attended the University of North Texas where he now teaches.”
The program includes such numbers as “A Night In Tunisia” (it was a challenge for Anthony to play the active bass line while singing but he succeeded), a version of “What Is This Thing Called Love” that includes the rarely-heard verse, a rare uptempo rendition of the ballad “I Got It Bad,” “Stairway To The Stars,” and a transformation of the British new wave band Modern English’s “I Melt With You” into swinging jazz. One of the singer’s favorite numbers on the album is actually the only instrumental of the date. “A Father’s Love For Ant” is inspired by his son Anthony who he calls Ant. “When he was younger and I practiced many of my songs, he often cried, but one time I was playing triads on the piano and it made him laugh. It was the funniest thing. I started making up this melody, it calmed him down and then, when I played the triad at the end, it caused him to laugh again.” The release of Something’s Gotta Give adds to Anthony’s growing body of work and points towards great things in the future.
While he is the first bassist in his family, one could trace Anthony’s musical beginnings to his genes. His grandfather, violinist Emilio Caceres, played both swing and Latin music starting in the 1930s including with Jack Teagarden and Harry James while his grand uncle, Ernie Caceres, was one of the first great baritone-saxophonists, working with Eddie Condon, Jack Teagarden and the original Glenn Miller Orchestra. While the Caceres Brothers performed in San Antonio into the 1960s, unfortunately Ernie passed away before Anthony was born and Emilio had retired by then.
However Anthony Caceres certainly heard about them from his father who, like his brother David, played saxophone. “I learned a lot from my father about big bands (he was into Stan Kenton and Woody Herman) and how horn sections sound, so I started out on the alto-sax,” recalls Anthony. “However I had no real connection with the instrument. When a childhood friend decided to put a rock band together and needed a bassist, he suggested that I learn to play it. I bought an electric bass from a pawn shop and immediately knew that I was on my way to finding my voice. That is how I really started in music.” He soon switched to acoustic bass and gained experience playing in a local jazz band.
After serving in the Navy for four years, Anthony studied music at San Antonio Community College and the University of North Texas. While he was a late bloomer, he studied hard and gradually caught up to his peers. As a freelance bassist, he toured with the off-Broadway musical production of Miss Saigon and performed with the Four Aces, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, trumpeter Marvin Stamm, pianist Bill Mays, altoist Greg Abate, Grammy Award composer and pianist Jeff Franzel, trombonist Conrad Herwig, Jazz Vocalist Rosanna Vitro, Sebastian Whittaker & The Creators, Freddie Jones Jazz Group, The Pamela York Trio, Drummer Jeff Hamilton, and the late great trombonists Carl Fontana & Bill Watrous among others.
During 2004-06, Anthony Caceres toured as the bassist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, 65 years after Ernie Caceres had been a member. He remembers it as a great experience. Anthony recorded with the big band and particularly treasures playing each year in Japan in major concert halls before audiences that loved the music. However there was one drawback. “I really wanted to sing in the band but I did not have much experience and did not get the chance. That is one of the main reasons that I left. I decided that it was time to form my own group and pursue my dreams.”
But first Anthony had to decide whether he wanted to be a singer, a bassist, or both; he chose the latter. “I played bass in a salsa band and they wanted me to sing background vocals too. It was difficult at first but it got easier with repetition and time until it seemed natural to do both at the same time.” In late-2007, Anthony put together his own band and started gigging in the Houston area. He has not stopped since.
Anthony Caceres made his recording debut as a singer-bassist on the EP Don’t Call It Love. Even at that relatively early stage, he interpreted lyrics with warmth and a full understanding of the meanings behind the words. His warm conversational style showed the inspiration of such singers as Chet Baker, Johnny Hartman, Harry Connick Jr. and Jamie Cullum. The six-song EP, which teamed him with guitarist Brad Ard, saxophonist Boris Kurganov, and drummer Richard Cholakian, includes among its highlights a joyful “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” and the obscure but memorable “Don’t Call It Love.”
His first full-length CD, Crooner, had Anthony joined by pianist Pamela Young and the late drummer Sebastian Whittaker, both of whom he had worked with often. The trio (with guest appearances by tenor-saxophonists Warren Sneed and Seth Paynter) performed songs from their repertoire including ”You’d Better Love Me” (which was inspired by Mel Torme’s version), a bossa-nova treatment of “In The Still Of the Night,” “All Of You,” an uptempo “Avalon,” “September In The Rain,” and “La Call Del Delfin Verde,” the latter being a Spanish version of “On Green Dolphin Street.”
Now with the release of Something’s Gotta Give, Anthony Caceres is looking to the future with enthusiasm. “In recent times I have been playing some piano at my gigs which is a lot of fun. I’m most inspired by Red Garland, Oscar Peterson and Pamela York. Also, I love performing some classic pop/rock songs and surprising audiences by turning them into jazz. A lot of young people might not know the older jazz songs but, by doing this, I get them interested in jazz. I would love to tour Europe and Japan with my group and perform at more festivals. And it’s long been a goal of mine to record a big band album with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, singing with them this time.”