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Dino Casillas

Dino heard jazz at home while growing up, but not until 1962 at the age of nine did he attend his first jazz concert with his mother. Claremont University in southern California headliners included the Jazz Crusaders, Shelley Manne, Stan Kenton and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Dino's life changed forever - jazz and drums got into his bloodstream.

Having studied under Greg Garcia and Bobby Dominguez, in 1968 he progressed into full time gigs to start saving for his college tuition. Dino graduated from Cal State University, San Bernardino, California with a BA in History. Living in Southern California afforded him opportunities to in his early years to play with great recording artists such Steve Tavaglione, Stan Watkins, and Bob Carlisle.

In 1995, a move to Ponte Vedra Beach and in 2001 to Amelia Island, Florida, he recognized a lack of a jazz scene, jazz musicians, and jazz gigs. There was nothing but big band sounds around Amelia Island - uuuggh! Seizing the opportunity he formulated Trio East which enabled him to bring real straight ahead and brazilian jazz sounds to Amelia Island. Where would he get the musicians? He networked with the University of Florida (UNF) jazz program first chair students. Bright and upcoming musicians, just no gigs.

Dino attributed “building his chops” to many club gigs at a very young age. By way of creating Trio East he was able to hire very talented UNF musicians out of the classroom to create their own jazz life learning experiences. Many UNF jazz program musicians were introduced to Amelia Island through Trio East. The UNF jazz musicians were pianist Carlos Martinez, Tom McEvoy, and Cam Ray; bassists were Paul Creel and Paul Sikivie.

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