The ensemble quickly grew to three times its original size, building upon the foundational rhythm section of congas, bongos, timbales, güiros and maracas, and incorporating a full horn section, piano, and even an occasional drum kit. Wearing signature guayabera shirts featuring the Cal State LA logo, the group enthralled audiences during live performances at venues such as the Autry Museum and Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. In 2000, the 22-person ensemble performed in Cuba, and 10 years later, they played before an appreciative audience of 2,000 in China. While their live performances were captivating, De Castro wanted to ensure that the music lived on in recorded form.
To create Setenta, he relied on a large network of alumni and friends of the program. De Castro points to one of his favorite tracks on the album, “Trombonático,” as an example of the collaborative effort that underscores Setenta’s success.
For the trombone section, De Castro relied on four former students, including Luis Bonilla, one of the premier trombone players in the world, and José Arellano, who also served as track composer and arranger.