A Dog-Loving Trio at the Outpost

The Dogbone Trio: Micah Hood, Jefferson Voorhees, Maren Hatch

Serendipity, thy name is the Dogbone Trio. Comprising Micah Hood (trombone), Maren Hatch, (acoustic bass), and Jefferson Voorhees (drums), this improvisational trio with a wide-ranging repertoire was formed and then discovered by chance. Nevertheless, their booking this week at the Outpost to kick off the 22nd Annual Summer Thursday Jazz Nights series, in tandem with the Jackie Zamora Brazilian Quintet, was a purely intentional move by Outpost Executive Director Tom Guralnick, who knows a good thing when he hears it.

A chance meeting
Jefferson Voorhees, who has been on the Albuquerque scene for 25 years in bands as diverse as the Tom Guralnick Trio, Wagogo, and Pray for Brain, regularly accompanies Romy Keegan’s Ballet-Afrique Contemporary Dance Fusion class at the Maple Street Dance Space. On a cabaret night at the space, Voorhees was asked to sit in on a tune with vocalists Diane Richardson and Marietta Benevento, and he was told that there’d be a bassist, too.

“We got to rehearse maybe 15 minutes before the audience started coming in,” says Voorhees, eliciting a chuckle in remembrance from Hatch, who was the mystery bassist. “Maren was all over it. Her fingers are so nimble, and her ideas are so interesting.”

As the audience filed in, Voorhees suggested that the two of them just improvise until showtime. “I’m not sure I even knew your name,” says Voorhees to Hatch, who is familiar to New Mexican audiences through her playing in both Entourage Jazz and Wild Humans.

“We maybe said two words to each another,” she confirms.

They played through four improvisations and by the end of it, Voorhees confesses, he was musically in love with Hatch. They got together to play again several times. On one play date, Hatch brought along Hood, whom she’d met and played with in the music department at UNM and who is a familiar presence in both Baracutanga and the Sol Band.

“She just one day out of the blue on Facebook just messaged me,” says Hood. She told him about the jams she and Voorhees had been having and that her “drummer buddy” wanted to add horns. “She approached me with the highest regard, and that always humbles me.”

Hood brought an original tune with him, and they jammed together off of that and found that they had a strong musical connection in the freewheeling improv. It’s impossible to predict and even harder to create: it’s there or it ain’t, and it is very much there for these three—to the point that they’ll break out laughing in rehearsal when they find themselves landing in the same place and heading in the same direction. Rhythms and lines interlock and take on a life of their own that carry the musicians forward, rather than the other way around.

Dog lover Tom Guralnick, with Jefferson Voorhees’s dog, Maxie, at the Outpost

A happy accident
The same day that Hood first showed up, Guralnick happened to stop by Voorhees’s place as the latter was listening to a recording he had made of the trio’s jam. As the two were chatting, Guralnick suddenly asked, “Who’s that?”

“That’s my new band,” said Voorhees, laughing as he recalls it was new as of that afternoon.

“Let’s book ’em,” said Guralnick.

So the band needed a name and a photo. Guralnick immediately started bugging Voorhees to get the info to him. “I don’t even know this guy’s last name,” Voorhees remembers saying, as he nods in Hood’s direction.

So at the next rehearsal, the band started working on a name and came up with several silly ones: e.g., Maxadactyl, after Voorhees’s chihuahua, Maxie. Too hard to spell. But it was the trio’s dogs, who hang out together at rehearsals, that inspired Voorhees to come up with Dogbone. Hood added “the” and “Trio.”

Everybody has contributed to the repertoire, which runs from old Stax/Volt songs to Frank Zappa’s “Blessed Relief” to ’60s and ’70s Afro pop—on which the bass is the primary melodic instrument (“I’ve been trying to seduce Maren with that, and she’s doing great,” says Voorhees)—to blues to Haitian bell patterns to originals. That being said, the band is not about covers. It’s about using that material as launching pads.

“I don’t think any of us have any limitations on what—on any style to avoid, other than standard jazz,” says Voorhees, referring to the head/improv/head formula. “Unless we have to,” Hood adds, and the other two chime in with an echoing “Unless we have to.”

Voorhees, the senior member of the trio, calls his companions two of the best musicians he’s ever played with, and says that he is “humbled and honored” to be playing with two people whose ages added together are less than his.

You can follow the band’s development after the Outpost gig by catching them at Vibrance, where they play brunch most Sundays.

 

The Dogbone Trio
and
The Jackie Zamora Brazilian Quintet
Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Weil Hall at the Outpost Performance Space
210 Yale SE, Albuquerque
Tickets: $15, general admission/$10, members and students
For more info and tickets, go here or call 505-268-0044.

 

© 2017 Mel Minter. All rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “A Dog-Loving Trio at the Outpost

  1. Carol Tristano

    Hi All,
    I wanted to add that what’s been passing for jazz on the commercial scene for so long, is the main reason, in my opinion, why so many musicians are put off or simply not drawn to it. It makes sense really. They are actually picking up on the watered downess of the art form, not to mention the aggressive, even hostile playing of many musicians.
    So there you go…..it’s almost comical.

    Thanks for the review Mel and I will take the time to check out these musicians.
    Carol

    Reply
    1. Mel Post author

      Hey, Carol, nice to hear from you. I think you may have put more weight on that little phrase (“Unless we have to”) than it can bear and drawn a broad conclusion about these musicians from a very narrow bit of evidence. So I’m glad you’ll check these folks out, because I suspect that you’ll find what they are doing to be fresh and fun. You can listen to the trio on Patti Littlefield’s radio show (see her comment below) or on the KUNM.org archives for two weeks after the air date. As for Don Byron, I hope somebody hides his clarinet from him at least. He made a very poor showing on a wonderful album from the late Allen Toussaint, Bright Mississippi. I can only imagine that the record label wanted him on the date since he was a label mate of Toussaint’s. But with New Orleans players like Tim Laughlin, Evan Christopher, and Dr. Michael White available, and deeply familiar with the repertoire, the choice of Byron was unfortunate.

      Reply
  2. Carol Tristano

    Hi Mel and Mark,
    Thought I’d add my 2 cents to what Mark expressed. “Unless we have to” gives something away in my opinion. It tells me that these musicians really don’t know, in a profound way, what it means to improvise on a jazz standard, with a jazz feeling. But I’m not criticizing them. I don’t know them or their music. I feel strongly that the roots of jazz, and the heart that makes up what it is to be a jazz musician, have been taken for granted for nearly seven decades.
    Mark, I don’t know Don Byron, but I thought your observation about “squawking and squealing” was very funny and could apply to many jazz musicians and free players.
    And imagine, the genius of Prez, another thing taken for granted by many in the so called jazz community. You couldn’t get away with treating a Bach composition that way………or maybe you could?
    Carol

    Reply
  3. Mark Weber

    From a listeners point of view the standards offer a way in —- they are the lingua franca of
    jazz, we know the melody and the form, and so when we’re out at a club sitting at the bar
    having a little taste, it’s purely interesting to see (ie. hear) what the band does with one of
    these solid warhorses, and when the soloist takes off we’re right there as they abstract and
    deviate and reexamine the melody and tell their own story, it’s a lot of fun —– And nobody
    repeats anything, these tunes are far from tired and wore out, there is magic in those standards
    yet to be mined ——–

    So, when someone like Don Byron endeavors to maneuver a Prez line and things get complicated
    and he switches to avant squawking & squealing then you know he didn’t pass the smell test.

    Reply
    1. Mel Post author

      D’accord. (Just heard the Django Festival All-Stars at the outpost. Mon dieu. Ils sont fantastiques.) I don’t think anyone in the trio would disagree with what you say here, either. I suspect that they play the standards in other groups, and they are just looking to break out a little and take on a different repertoire that challenges them in a different way. Plus, in the rehearsal I heard, they did not solo sequentially. It was more an ensemble approach.

      Reply
    1. Mel Post author

      Well, you’ll have to ask them, Mark, but I don’t think they feel anything is wrong with it. Rather, they want to do something outside the lines, just as some of your favorite musicians do.

      Reply
  4. Dudessa

    Great article on a very exciting new band. I am very happy to have Jefferson as my guest on All That Jazz next Wednesday, 6/21, the night before their performance at Outpost. We will play a couple of their tunes so that KUNM listeners will have their appetites for exciting and fresh music well whetted (is that even a word?). 89.9 FM 12 Noon Live streaming at KUNM.org.

    Looking Forward

    Reply

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