Category Archives: Views

R.I.P. Guitarist and Teacher Steve Maase (Updated)

Steve Maase. Photo courtesy of the family.

Steve Maase. Photo courtesy of the family.

Known to generations of Albuquerque music fans and students, guitarist and teacher Steve Maase passed away last weekend, quietly and peacefully in his sleep of “complications due to an underlying heart condition, peacefully and in his sleep,” report his daughters, Lily Maase and Ari Nicole. Continue reading

René Marie: Sweetened by Risk (Reprise)

Note: This is a reposting of a piece I did when René Marie last passed through here in March 2014. She was touring in support of her latest album, I Wanna Be Evil, an homage to Eartha Kitt, which was later nominated for a GRAMMY. I don’t remember who won in the category, but they must have been damn good to beat out I Wanna Be Evil. I interviewed her for the article, and it was one of the most satisfying chats I have ever had with an artist. She was open, honest, and unguarded, and she spoke with great warmth and
humor. It was more like a conversation with an old friend whom I had not seen in years than it was an interview with someone I had never met. Those of you who have seen her before likely already have your tickets in hand. For those of you who have never seen her, I strongly recommend you get tickets before they sell out. I can all but guarantee that you will leave the concert a somewhat better and much happier person than when you entered. (I’ve updated the concert information at the end of the post.)

Photo by JaniceYim.

Photo by Janice Yim.

I saw and heard René Marie for the first time at the Outpost last spring. Going in, I knew only that she was a jazz singer with two first names and an imaginative haircut. That night, I learned that onstage, she opens herself to the music, lights, and audience the way a morning glory opens itself to the sun—brilliantly exposed and vulnerable.

But in command, too—with a lovely instrument, an actress’s ability to assume character, a strong backbone, and a very clear idea of what she wants to do with a song.

This Thursday, vocalist, playwright, teacher, and activist Marie brings her group—with Kevin Bales (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums)—back to the Outpost, riding the wave generated by her latest album, I Wanna Be Evil (Motéma). It’s a delicious tribute to the late Eartha Kitt, featuring a number of songs associated with the strong-willed singer, actress, and dancer, as well as star turns from Charles Etienne on trumpet, the gloriously audacious Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, and Adrian Cunningham on flute, clarinet, and sax. The two ladies have a lot of characteristics in common—suavity, sensuality, grit, honesty, and straight talking—and it’s unlikely anyone else on this planet could honor Kitt as effectively as Marie does. Continue reading

Brooklyn Galaxies

Brooklyn, once the stepchild of Manhattan, has become a musical mecca, attracting hordes of musicians and listeners to neighborhoods with “music in the cafés at night, and revolution in the air,” to quote Zimmie, who was writing about another time and place and revolution.

Here are two new releases from folks who live on planets situated in different galaxies but who inhabit the same modest borough of New York City: Musette Explosion and the Suite
Unraveling, headed by guitarist Lily Maase, an Albuquerque native. Continue reading

Mary Halvorson Quintet: Wow.

Sometimes you just know—and quickly, too.

The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was on a Friday afternoon in 1967. I was hanging with my friend Eric Walsh at his parents’ house after school when he put on Are You Experienced. It was only a few seconds into “Purple Haze” that, eyes wide and forearm hairs standing involuntarily erect, I knew I had never heard anything like it before and wanted to hear more. It filled a void whose existence I hadn’t even suspected.

MaryHalvorson.300dpi#6C0886Jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson had a life-
changing experience when she first heard Hendrix at the tender age of 11 or so. She abandoned the violin she’d been sawing away at for a few years, grabbed herself a black-and-white Stratocaster and some tablature books, and started on her quest to play like Jimi Hendrix.

The circle came full last week when I slid Halvorson’s Bending Bridges CD (Firehouse 12 Records, 2012) into the tray and hit Play. I knew in just a few seconds that I was hearing something previously unheard. There was something in the angle of the melodic lines, the way the horn lines rubbed against each other, something in the gloriously doleful feel that said: “New voice. Pay attention.”

She’s bringing her quintet—with Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone), John Hébert (bass), and Ches Smith (drums)—to the Outpost this Thursday, and I’ll be wearing bells. Continue reading