I’ve seen vocalist René Marie naked three times. So have tens of thousands of others—just about anyone, I’d bet, who’s seen her perform in person. No, she doesn’t strip off her clothes. She peels away emotional defenses, social niceties, and the veneer of celebrity to expose and open her heart. Why does she do that? So she can open yours. What’s more, she has three accomplices, collectively known as Experiment in Truth, who are expert at picking the internal locks—John Chin (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums). So be warned: you will be moved if you attend her New Mexico Jazz Festival concert at the African American Performing Arts Center on August 5. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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
For guitarist Joshua Breakstone, inspiration comes from the tune, and his cello quartet, inspired by a happy accident, provides an unusual vehicle for elucidating the tune’s heart. This Thursday, the quartet—with Mike Richmond (cello), Chris Conner (bass), and John Trentacosta (drums)—will explore tunes on Breakstone’s latest release, 88 (Capri Records), an homage to pianists, which has been rising on the airplay charts. Continue reading
Drummer, composer, and Palmetto Records recording artist Matt Wilson doesn’t want you to just hear the music. “I’m always advocating to my students—and myself, too—that music
conjures more than just an aural response,” he says. “We want to be able to see music, we want to be able to taste music, we want to be able to smell music.”
He’s been entirely successful in provoking a synesthetic response from me. I just recently
realized that that’s one of the things I find so compelling in his music: it stimulates silent movies in my head for which he’s providing the soundtrack—and the title. Monikers such as “That’s Gonna Leave a Mark,” the title track of a previous album, or “Some Assembly Required,” off his quartet’s latest release, Gathering Call, just scream “Lights. Camera. Action.” The vivid musical personalities of the guys in the band become the characters in my little skully cinema.
“If you play music that conjures other images other than just someone hearing it, you’re striking [the listener]—either positively or negatively,” he says. “At least you’re getting some sort of
response out of them. I’d rather have that than the trough of blah, which is kind of like”—
dismissively—“ ‘Oh, yeah, it’s nice.’ ”
Wilson’s music, which he prefers to call “our music,” in reference to the contributions of the entire band, will never be accused of spending any time in the “trough of blah.” Concise, congenial, and energetic, it reflects his personality—and those of his band mates: Kirk Knuffke (cornet), who passed through here recently with Boom Tic Boom; Jeff
Lederer (tenor and soprano saxes, clarinet), and Chris Lightcap (bass). They’ll be offering up a smorgasbord of synesthesia at the
Outpost this coming Thursday.