CESAR RULES (1960-1980)
1968 Cesar Ascarrunz opens Cesar’s Latin Palace and ushers in the age of modern day Salsa in the Bay Area. Cesar Ascarunnz (pianist, bandleader, and producer) was the granddaddy of the Bay Area Salsa scene. Everybody went to dance salsa at his basement level location on Green Street in the North Beach and after the venue to a larger space in San Francisco’s Mission, Cesar’s had a stellar house band of Bay Area musicians and hosted the Salsa greatest names . He played there 10 years with his house band that included Joe Henderson, Luis Gasca, Hadley Caliman, Carmelo Garcia, Julian Priester, Armando Peraza, Francisco Aguabella and, Benny Velarde and many others. Jose Feliciano even sang there. In 1977, Ascarrunz expanded his operation and moved the club to 3140 Mission St where it flourished during what many call the golden age of salsa. The venue hosted a who’s who Afrocuban music titans. “I hosted some great bands like Tito Puente, who played 10 times, Ray Barretto, Jose Fajardo, Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe and others,” Ascarrunz says. “The capacity of the place was 500 people, but I used to pack 1,000 in there.
See an excerpt from “ Sworn to the Drum” the documentary on Francisco Aguabella which was shot inside Cesar’s Palace in the 1990s.