Jazz is here to stay … just ask The Lighthouse’s Gloria Cadena
She’s Hermosa’s music beacon.
Gloria Cadena is sitting at a table at the legendary Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach making notations in her folder. The hostess comes over to her and whispers in her ear that a family has come in all the way from Kentucky just to hear the jazz music at The Lighthouse.
Gloria quickly gets up to go greet the family so she can tell them all about the venue. This is what Gloria calls “working the tables.” At 93, this jazz lover is not ever going to stop doing what she loves … and she loves jazz music.
Oscar “Ozzie” Cadena was Gloria’s husband. A fellow jazz lover, Ozzie was a producer for record labels Savoy Records and Prestige Records. He recorded gospel and jazz from the 1950s through the 1970s. He owned two record stores—one in Newark and another in New Brunswick.
Ozzie came home one day and informed Gloria that it was time to move to California … and that she would never have to work a day in her life again. So the Cadenas moved to the South Bay in 1974 with two of their three children and a huge inventory of records.
Ozzie bought a retail space at 901 Hermosa Avenue to open a record store. Gloria recalls that Los Angeles didn’t get the records as quickly as they did on the East Coast, so all of the Los Angeles stores came down and bought out their inventory. They tried to turn the shop into an antique store, but that just wasn’t profitable.
Within five years, they had exhausted all their money. So Gloria started managing apartment buildings and kept the family afloat, but Ozzie took the loss hard.
At this time Paul Hennessey purchased The Lighthouse. He heard that jazz producer Ozzie Cadena was in town, and the rest is history. Soon Ozzie volunteered his time to book bands for The Lighthouse.
A few decades later in 2008, Ozzie passed away. But 10 years after that, Gloria is keeping Ozzie’s legacy alive. She is in high demand booking and taking care of the jazz bands. “Gloria’s tenacity to ensure all patrons are introduced to jazz is what drives her,” says The Lighthouse’s manager, Steve Grehl.
Gloria is in charge of Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. She keeps a calendar of her bookings and is always willing to share its contents or offer her memories to anyone interested in jazz. She offers all the music with no cover charge—except one night a month, when there is a $10 cover.
As primary concierge to visiting bands, Gloria has her routine and quickly wants to get their food orders placed before the band even starts. She knows how to take care of her musicians and prides herself on the work she does for The Lighthouse. Between New Jersey and California, the Cadenas have been booking bands for 65 years. Take a look at all the photos in The Lighthouse Café … the Cadenas booked those bands.
Ozzie is credited with helping popularize jazz music in Los Angeles. Gloria’s fondest memory is when they booked Grammy award-winning Woody Herman, an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, singer and big band leader, to play at The Lighthouse. Herman played music that was considered cutting edge and possibly even experimental for the time period.
Music is definitely in the genes for the Cadenas. Their son, Dez Cadena, went on to be one of the singers and guitarists for the legendary band Black Flag and later the Misfits, one of the leading punk rock bands originating in the South Bay.
La La Land might have been filmed at The Lighthouse, but the next movie filmed at the historic venue should be the story of the Cadenas. Thank you for the music.
When Nobu Matsuhisa first opened his eponymous restaurant Matsuhisa on La Cienega in 1987, Reagan was in the White House and Japanese food was still largely considered an ethnic sub-specialty.