Tag Archives: Jon Gagan

Swing Local

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The Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor boasts a vein of musical talent that is out of all proportion to the size of the population. Several of the folks featured in the two reviews below have gigged far and wide, exciting audiences on multiple continents, but what they all have in common is that they live here in northern New Mexico. We get to hear them quite frequently. So today we feature albums from fellow New Mexicans Arlen Asher and the trio Kadish Gagan Bartlit (aka KGB), and all you poor deprived coastal dwellers now have the opportunity to hear them, too. Continue reading

What The What: a Small Gem

What the What_coverAlbums like the eponymously titled What The What serve to remind us, if we needed
reminding, that we needn’t travel to New York, Los Angeles, or Wherever The Wherever to hear top-drawer music—not if we live in Santa Fe or Albuquerque anyway. What The What—a trio featuring J.Q. Whitcomb
(trumpet), Jon Gagan (bass), and Robby
Rothschild (percussion)—could play
anywhere, and each of them has, in one
aggregation or another.

The album includes five compositions from Gagan and one from Whitcomb. They are all straightforward, easily accessible tunes, and they all have quirks that hook pleasantly into the ear. The performances ride on Gagan’s rhythmic horse, propelled by Rothschild’s unobtrusive percussion, and against that rhythmic foundation, Whitcomb’s long, lyrical lines create a nice musical tension. Continue reading

Home Grown, Pt. 3

Just back from vacation in Portland, Oregon, where our godson, Noah Kite, graduated college. (Noah and Corey Distler cofounded the group zinnie for short. Check their music out, and
expect earworms.) For those of you in New Mexico, I can assure you that rain still exists, as do daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The Pacific Ocean put on a splendid son et lumière for us, too. Thanks to the Kites for a memorable visit.

Now, back to the listening couch. Here’s part three of a continuing series on New Mexico artists: a review of bassist Jon Gagan’s Transit 3: migration.

Transit 3 Cover SqTransit 3: migration, Jon Gagan (Spiral
Subwave Records International)
Bassist/keyboardist/composer Jon Gagan is no hostage to genre. Though an eminently
accomplished jazz bassist—he’s backed such luminaries as Mose Allison, Milt “Bags”
Jackson, Nat Adderley, and Eddie Harris—he started off playing garage rock, and he’s equally comfortable in funk and world music settings. He made his name as bassist, arranger, and musical director for Ottmar Liebert, the “nouveau flamenco” guitarist who’s sold gazillions of records.

Gagan’s own compositions reflect that broad experience and his desire to create instrumental music that ignores “the genre thing,” as he told me in an interview a few years ago. Gagan wants to appeal to “a different sort of person, who’s not necessarily just interested in, let’s say, instrumental prowess or jazz skill—but just likes the sound of music.”

The impeccably produced Transit 3: migration, like its predecessors, Transit and Transit 2,
accomplishes that objective, blending jazz, world beat, funk, and wordless pop to tell “the story of mankind’s escape from a depleted Earth.”

Continue reading