Spot­light: Joe Hr­bek - Costa Rica’s “iron sax man”

Gold Coast's “iron sax man”

Howler Magazine - - Contents - by Johnny La­houd

If you’ve been in Ta­marindo over the past few years, chances are you’ve heard the crispy notes and brass licks of Joe Hr­bek res­onat­ing through the streets. Since his ar­rival in 2013, Joe has gained a loyal fol­low­ing play­ing solo, duets and in bands. Hav­ing been known to play two and some­time three gigs in one day, he’s re­put­edly the hard­est-work­ing mu­si­cian on the Gold Coast. So, let´s see what makes him tick.

Where are you from?

I grew up in New Jer­sey and started play­ing clar­inet at 8 years old in the school band. In 1992, I moved to New York City to pur­sue a pro­fes­sional mu­sic ca­reer, per­form­ing in re­ally cool places with some of the best mu­si­cians in the world.

What are your mu­si­cal in­flu­ences and in­stru­ments played?

I was a clas­si­cally trained clar­inetist, and then started play­ing the sax­o­phone. Now I play alto and so­prano sax­o­phones and still have my clar­inet. New York was an amaz­ing place to be a work­ing mu­si­cian for over 20 years ... play­ing mu­sic at some of the best venues and get­ting my butt kicked by some the great­est mu­si­cians in the world.

At 8 years old, I started lis­ten­ing to Benny Good­man and his big band. From there, I de­vel­oped an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all types of mu­sic, from jazz, clas­si­cal and pop to soul and rock and roll. This has af­forded me to play all kinds of styles and keep me work­ing. My big­gest in­flu­ences are sax­o­phon­ists Char­lie Parker, Can­non­ball Ad­der­ley, Maceo Parker and Dex­ter Gor­don, to name a few.

Why Costa Rica and Ta­marindo?

I have al­ways had a pas­sion for the ocean and beach life. It's hard to de­scribe, but the uni­verse sort of led me here. I came here on va­ca­tion, went home and I just could not let Costa Rica go. When I moved here four years ago, I had no idea I would be play­ing so much mu­sic. Ta­marindo has opened its heart to me and my mu­sic, and I am so ever grate­ful.

You’re known as the Gold Coast’s “iron sax man.”

It's be­cause that's what I do. I have been for­tu­nate to work just about ev­ery night my whole ca­reer. I LOVE IT! I still get ex­cited at ev­ery gig. I will play ev­ery chance I get — life is short.

Will you do Costa Rica for­ever?

I have ful­filled a lot on my bucket list. Walk­ing and swim­ming on the beach by day and play­ing mu­sic at night in such a mag­i­cal place for the rest of my life sounds like a plan for me!

What are your up­com­ing shows and sched­ules for 2017/18?

I am very ex­cited about the com­ing sea­son. I have a solo show and lots more go­ing on. I play as a duo with Luiz Paes Leme, who sings and plays gui­tar. The chem­istry be­tween us is awe­some. We can be found at La Palapa, El Chirin­guito, El Va­quero, El Be Beach­club, Wal­ter's, Ho­tel Pasatiempo, The Shack in Potrero for brunch, and many other places. Also, I´m play­ing with the leg­endary rock band

The Leatherbacks. We kick off the 201718 high sea­son at the Ho­tel Pasatiempo Hal­loween Party. Be sure to check my face­book page and the new cal­en­dar sec­tion of the Howler (pg. 34) for Novem­ber show in­for­ma­tion.

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