SAN GABRIEL VALLEY / COVER STORY : Enterprising Endeavors : Pasadena Neighborhood Center Offers Free Training, Small Loans to Help Self-Starters Realize Dreams : Combo Effort Launches CD of Latino Composer's Music

The soft, jazzy sounds of the "Kukulcan" compact disc are a melodic tribute to Ruben Alaniz's dream--and his widow's tenacity.

"Ever since I met him, his dream was always to be immortal and to record his music with great musicians behind him," said Sandra Romero, 40, of Pasadena.

A guitarist and composer who played at concerts, art exhibits and cultural events throughout California, Alaniz recorded portions of his songs before he died five years ago of a brain hemorrhage at age 35. "After he died, I thought, 'The dream doesn't have to end,' " Romero said.

A year ago, in collaboration with friends saxophonist Ralph Torres and his wife, Theresa, Romero pieced together her late husband's recordings and produced a CD of his music. But then came the question of how to get the CD to market, and there Romero was stumped.

Then, in September, 1994, Romero learned of the Neighborhood Enterprise Center through a friend.

"It was perfect timing for me, because I was just thinking, 'How am I going to market this? How am I going to learn about this part?' " Romero said.

"Kukulcan," named for the Mayan god of creation, is the name of Romero's label and its debut CD, which the center is helping her market. The recording is a sampler of Latin sounds, including Brazilian, Peruvian, Andean, Mexican and jazz.

Romero is taking marketing instruction at the center to produce a press kit and portfolio to promote the CD, and she is applying for a $500 loan. The CD is now available at Tower Records stores in Hollywood and Pasadena, Rhino Records in Claremont and several other stores in the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles. Fifty of the discs have been sold so far.

Before its release, Romero spoke at local colleges to promote "Kukulcan" and drew an enthusiastic response, she said.

"I talked about the history, culture and politics of music," she said. "Part of what we're trying to promote is getting young people aware of their cultural heritage."

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