Love … and All That Jazz

The story of a Hermosa Beach couple who shared a passion for music and each other.

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    Cassidy Strawn

In 1941, a mutual friend encouraged Ozzie Cadena to ask Gloria to dance, knowing they had a common love of music and dancing. And so the romance started. He was her first boyfriend, and she was his first girlfriend. The courtship soon led to a series of love notes as Ozzie headed to war.
When the two were married in 1950, Ozzie’s mother told him, “Ozzie, this is a good girl. You take care of her.” And he said, “Mom, that’s why I’m gonna marry her.” Gloria says, “He had a smart answer for everything!”
Their love for each other became intertwined with their love of jazz. Working for production companies such as Savoy, Prestige, Blue Note and Fantasy—as well as starting his own company called Choice, Ozzie helped arrange sessions for the likes of Charles Mingus, Little Jimmy Scott and Yusef Lateefe … to name a few. He also helped Woody Herman and Dave Brubeck get their careers started.
Gloria certainly has her own ear for music. Last August, she received an award honoring her influence in jazz at Leimert Park. One of the musicians who spoke at the ceremony on her behalf joked, “If we don’t play good, Glo will get us in the kneecap!”
On their two-day honeymoon in New York City, the pair went to Birdland Jazz Club to see Art Tatum and Bud Powell, and the next day they saw the New York Giants win their hometown game. Gloria recalls, “Ozzie used to tell everyone that we did the two things we loved best.” They loved jazz so much, they named all their children after famous jazz musicians: Pru, Dez and Lori.

"Ozzie’s mother told him, ‘Ozzie, this is a good girl. You take care of her.’ And he said, ‘Mom, that’s why I’m gonna marry her.’ Gloria says, ‘He had a smart answer for everything!’”

Gloria fondly remembers Ozzie’s friendship with Duke Ellington. “Ozzie was a sharp dresser. He didn’t have a tuxedo like most of the guys did. He went out and had a rust jacket made, white shirt, black tie and black peg pants. When we got to the club in New York called Hurricane, Duke came over to the table and said, ‘Hey, Ozzie, stand up. My goodness, you got some nice threads on.’ He couldn’t get his head through the door, he was so proud.”
The couple moved to Hermosa Beach in 1974 and became well-known for booking jazz gigs at the legendary Lighthouse Cafe. When Ozzie passed away in 2008, Gloria took over.
He often looked to her for advice throughout his music career. “When he would record something, he’d bring it home and ask my advice,” she shares. “‘I want you to listen to this. Tell me what you think.’ He would always involve me.”
Now their children continue their parents’ love of music, including Dez, who plays guitar for The Misfits. Reflecting on Ozzie and their nearly 70 years together, Gloria muses, “We just had a good thing with music.”