Remembering Austin Peralta

November 25, 2012 Hearing the news of Austin Peralta’s passing, at just 22, is beyond incomprehensible. At 13, Peralta had already established himself as a jazz pianist bearing the burden of comparisons to giants like McCoy Tyner. At 15, he was playing alongside giants like Ron Carter. This kid, from West Los Angeles, this progeny of a surfer-skate legacy, was off the charts fucking unbelievable. I first heard him at my cousin’s urging in 2008 (he went to high school with his daughter). I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. His cover of Tyner’s “Passion Dance” didn’t just honor the composition, it elevated it. Like that was even possible. I saw Peralta live only once. Playing to a room of 30 or so mostly friends and family at the old Jazz Bakery on a weeknight. That the world did not know this guy was beyond me. He had been a fixture in town, playing fairly often at the Blue Whale and other rooms. I did not know Austin or his family personally, but knew friends and players in his orbit and I’m probably older than the sum of most of his early trios. That he even existed in this […]