Gary Gazaway was born in Northeast Arkansas, where the Western Lowlands of the Central Mississippi Valley join the Ozark Plateau. The region’s rich musical heritage of Blues, Gospel, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Soul, and Jazz influenced Gazaway as he was learning to play the trumpet. His father was a fan of Memphis Music, and took him to concerts by Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding and other artists that performed there at that time.
While attending college, he first worked professionally as a trumpet player in a local R&B band based out of Memphis. During this time, he became friends with Jazz pianist Charles Thomas and had the opportunity to experience his trio for several years at the Rivermont Hotel.
Gazaway received a degree in Journalism, moved to New York City, and began playing Club Dates, Jazz Lofts, and with the Machito Salsa Orchestra. From New York, he went to the Virgin Islands working with Freddy Thomas, then moved to Miami. In Miami, he began playing locally with Israel Lopez “Cacho”, Alexandro “El Negro” Vivar, Francisco “Pacquito” Hechavarria, Celia Cruz, Lisette, Ira Sullivan, Mike Gerber, Barry Ries, Big Black, Wayne Cochran, and many other American and Latin musicians in South Florida. He was introduced to Bob Marley and spent time at his home in Miami.
Gazaway joined the popular Latin Jazz fusion group Opa from Uruguay, and moved to Los Angeles, touring and recording with Brazilian Jazz artists Flora Purim and Airto Moreira. He recorded with Manolo Badrena and Jaco Pastorius. It was during this time that the nickname “El Búho” (“The Owl”) was fondly bestowed to Gazaway. From Los Angeles, he moved to Atlanta, and recorded and performed with Bruce Hampton. Then Gazaway traveled to South America touring in Argentina with Opa and Milton Nascimento.
In Brazil he performed with Toninho Horta, Wagner Tiso, Luis Alves, Robertinho Silva, Luis Eca, Yuri Popov, Mauro Senise, Nivaldo Ornellas, and Leo Gandelman.
In Uruguay he performed with Hugo and Jorge Fattoruso, Ruben Rada, Eduardo Mateo, and the Montevideo Folkloric Candombe Drummers. He performed and recorded with Delta Bluesman CeDell Davis and New York Times pop music critic Robert Palmer, with a special appearance at Tramp’s Blues Club in NYC, featuring Jazz legend Ornette Coleman.
Gazaway moved to Nashville in 1984 to concentrate on studio work, production, and songwriting. While developing the El Búho Project, he continued touring and recording with some of the top names in the music industry. He was bandleader for Cajun musician Joel Sonnier on his RCA recordings, videos, and tours, working with guests Steve Winwood, and Garth Hudson. He toured with Delbert McClinton and also recorded with Steve Cropper.
His El Búho Project continued to performed in Nashville, and featured a “Who’s Who” of new musicians moving to Music City at that time. Gazaway worked for Joe Cocker on two American tours, recorded on his platinum Live CD with the Memphis Horns, and appeared in a live concert video. He performed on the Joe Cocker and Stevie Ray Vaughan “Power And Passion Tour,” which was the legendary Texas guitarist’s last tour. Vaughan featured Gazaway’s trumpet solos, and hired him to organize a horn section for his European tour, scheduled for October of that year.
In the spring of 1991, after performing several shows with the newly formed Aquarium Rescue Unit, Gazaway moved to Maui, Hawaii to research music of the Polynesian Triangle. He was hired by the Hawaii State Department of Education as Director of Polynesian Music in Hana, (one of the last Native Hawaiian communities in Hawaii). While working in Hawaii, he performed with jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks, Hawaiian guitarist Sam Ahia, and Hawaiian vocalist Lisa Ahia.
After returning to Nashville in 1995, he worked with the Irish group The Commitments on their American tour, and in October 1996, the rock group Phish invited Gazaway to be a featured performer at their Halloween concert in Atlanta.
This concert is a very important live show for tape collectors of Jam Bands. After recording on albums for George Jones, Susan Werner, and Derek Trucks, Gazaway reassembled his El Búho Project and began touring as a band. He has rapidly developed a grass roots following, and his shows have featured special guests Victor Wooten, Erich Avinger, Walfredo Reyes Jr., T Lavitz, Grant Green Jr., Jeff Sipe, and Mike Gordon.
In the fall of 1998, El Búho began recording his first solo release, The Wham Bam Boodle. As word spread of the recording among his colleagues, many of El Búho’s friends offered their talent; Col. Bruce Hampton, Victor Wooten, Oteil Burbridge, Mike Gordon, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Matt Rollings, and Erich Avinger are just a few of the musicians on the project.
Gazaway released the Album in April 2000 on Ecotone Records, as a collection of 6 original songs representing 6 different styles of El Buho. In 2003, he release a CD “Live in the Heartland”, revealing compositions recorded live in concert from the El Buho Project 2002 Tour featuring Jeff Sipe, Billy Peterson, and Peter Schimke.