Bassist Rozzano Zamorano's Death Leaves Huge Void in Music Scene


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Photo courtesy of Leticia London
Zamorano never had much formal music education, friends say, but by his early teens had met up with Houston's famous Zenteno family. According to Jason Price, he used to lie about his age to play gigs with the family band, as late vocalist Norma Zenteno (who passed away in February 2013) took Zamorano under her wing.

"The thing that gets me, by the time they found him, it was a day shy of a year that Norma had passed," Price says. "He was so close to her -- he was broken last year. She was kind of a mentor to him growing up."

"Over the past year, when I was talking to him, he would say, 'You know, I miss Norma," agrees Denver Courtney. "There was a real deep connection."

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Zamorano's other big role model was Jaco Pastorious, the jazz-fusion bassist once as known for his haughty attitude (and tragic end) as his prodigious talents. But Zamorano's similarities to the late Pastorious -- he won at least two Houston Press Music Awards for Best Bassist, and was a perennial nominee -- only extended as far as his confidence in his own abilities as a bassist, Courtney argues.

"He had an ego, but not a stuck-up ego," the singer says. "It was just when you know something that good and you play something that well, you're confident. And confidence is everything."

Zamorano was a graduate of the University of St.Thomas who had worked as an insurance-fraud investigator, although Courtney says he had been laid off about a year ago and had decided to focus on his music for the time being. He never married or had children, but taught private lessons (including to Courtney's son) and could often be seen at shows talking to other musicians, exchanging tricks of the trade. Even his neighbors grew to enjoy listening to him rehearse for hours on end, Courtney says.

"I've been reading some stories on Facebook," he offers. "His neighbors said, 'We always heard him playing his bass and we always loved it. It was kind of part of our day, to hear him noodling on his bass. And then we'd see musicians coming in and out, or other people coming in and out to have a bass lesson or just come over and visit with him, and he'd always stop to talk to us or visit with our kids. That was just his life.'"

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Besides his own trio, Zamorano also played with the progressive/Latin-rock band Yokomono, but Courtney says the Fondue Monks had been on a real upswing lately. At their lunch last Monday, he recalls, "Rozz was jovial, just talking a lot about the future and music, just how excited he was. Everybody has been coming out lately to our shows, just a lot bigger crowds lately.

"He was just talking about [writing] new music and, 'Let's get another CD together and release some music,'" Courtney adds.

Dan Electro's owner Bob Edwards says Zamorano had a habit of hanging out at the club until the wee hours of the morning -- "Rozz was one of the very, very few people that we let hang out with us at the end of the night after we were done" -- whether hanging out after a gig at the club or after a night on the town elsewhere. One such night was after his birthday party two weekends ago, Edwards recalls.

"There was Rozz, hanging out with us at 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock in the morning," the clubowner says. "I didn't go to breakfast with him, but he went to breakfast with the rest of the people. I heard somebody say over [this past] weekend that they never saw Rozz smile, but here we are, sitting there at 4 or 4:30 in the morning.

"Rozz had a habit of sitting around with his eyes closed, and you'd never know if he had his eyes closed or not," adds Edwards. "Then somebody would say something funny and Rozz would snicker. Then he came around and he started telling stories. It's my last memory of him. He had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes."

Zamorano's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. this Saturday, March 1, at Bridgepoint Bible Church, 13277 Katy Fwy., with a wake to follow that evening at Dan Electro's. Jason Price is planning a daytime memorial from 3-7 p.m. March 15 at Warehouse Live, and Zamorano's March 6 gig at MKT bar has also been turned into a benefit for the family. The bassist's father, Roland Zamorano, says he has received hundreds of messages from people from coast to coast, expressing their condolences.

"He was a very compassionate person," says the elder Zamorano. "He always put other people before himself, and he always mentored people. He always had a good word of encouragement for everyone. He didn't have that jealousy thing with other artists. He was a humble guy that let his art talk for him."


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Dan Electro's Guitar Bar

1031 E. 24th, Houston, TX

Category: Music


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8 comments
philclark56
philclark56

What a loss, work with him on show with Joe road house back in the day. A good person , who had a way of playing, that is going to hard to duplicate. I will morn his loss. may god bless. 

tednessus33
tednessus33

"Bassist Rozzano Zamorano's Death Leaves Huge Void"

That's a pretty poorly chosen article title considering how large this man was. 

John Wells
John Wells

Really shines a light on the obesity problem we have in this city. Sad story. Condolences to his family.

ClassicRockBob
ClassicRockBob

What a loss indeed. Have interviewed him and the Monks numerous times over the years, and he was always gracious, fun, and - of course - extremely talented. My condolences to his family, friends, and musical partners.

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