New Mexico is blessed with a generous helping of world-class musicians of all types, artists who could play on the world’s finest stages (some do) but choose to make their home here. Stellar reed man, educator, and award-winning broadcaster, Arlen Asher has been on that list for 59 years. Since his arrival here in 1958, Arlen has beguiled audiences with his beautiful tone and his silky lines on an arsenal of woodwinds that he hauls to just about every gig—flutes, saxophones (he once confessed that the bari is his favorite instrument), and clarinet. On May 7, Arlen turns 88, but age has not dimmed his passion for the music. On May 4, this consummate gentleman will celebrate his birthday—and the 83rd birthday of jazz fan and producer Bumble Bee Bob Weil—with a concert in the hall that bears Weil’s name at the Outpost Performance Space. I caught up with Arlen recently to talk about the upcoming gig, which will include pianist Jim Ahrend, bassist Colin Deuble, and drummer John Trentacosta, as well as guest vocalists Judy Christopher and Patti Littlefield. The quartet will reprise the concert at the Museum Hill Café in Santa Fe on May 6, with guest vocalists Susan Abod and Pam Jackson (guitarist Michael Anthony will replace Ahrend). Here are some of the highlights of our conversation. Continue reading
Several High-Profile Friends Join the Drummer in Concert This Week
Since moving from New York City to Santa Fe back in 1992, John Trentacosta has made it his business to invigorate the jazz community in northern New Mexico, and he plays numerous roles to accomplish that: drummer, band leader, producer, educator, and radio DJ. This
Thursday at the Outpost, the New Mexico Jazz Festival honors his contributions by presenting him in concert. He’ll be joined by several friends who are gathering from across the country and within New Mexico to celebrate Trentacosta’s commitment and to play with one of the
swingingest drummers on the scene. They include vocalist Giacomo Gates, flutist Ali Ryerson, trumpeter Michael Morreale, reedman Arlen Asher, pianist Bob Fox, and bassist Earl Sauls.
“It’s a tradition of the festival to honor some major figure in the New Mexico jazz scene,” says festival codirector Tom Guralnick. As bandleader of Straight Up—“one of the standout groups in New Mexico jazz,” says Guralnick—as producer of several series over the years in a variety of venues, from Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill to the Museum Café, as a key figure in the formation of the Santa Fe Music Collective, Trentacosta has had a major impact. Continue reading