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.
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
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.