Jazz Here and There, Then and Now
New Mexico Jazz Festival spreads out
The fifth annual New Mexico Jazz Festival has a gaggle of big names that will make jazz fans’ ears prick up in expectation—Toshiko Akiyoshi, Jimmy Cobb, Miguel Zenón, Los Pleneros de la 21, Bobby Shew and Doug Lawrence, just to name a few. That short list alone includes two NEA Jazz Masters, two National Heritage Fellows, Grammy winners and nominees, and a MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, among other honorees.
What may make this year’s festival the most interesting to date, however, is the imaginative variety of events—concerts, lectures, workshops, community outreach, open rehearsals—designed to satisfy any pocketbook (including no pocketbook at all). Visual arts, history and dance are all on the menu, too.
“I really think this is the most exciting festival yet,” says Tom Guralnick, executive director of Outpost Performance Space, who coordinates festival production. “We’ve had huge names, like Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner, and that’s very exciting. But I think that the festival this year is the most creative one, and the most, in a sense, adventurous—not because it’s avant-garde, but because it goes all over the place.”
There’s new music, old music, revolutionary music revisited, straight-ahead jazz, Latin jazz, big band, quartets, septets, vocalists—you name it. The equally wide variety of venues includes Central Avenue, the plazas in Old Town and Santa Fe, the Outpost, the Lensic, and beyond.
It's all made possible by the collaboration of the Outpost Performance Space, the Lensic Performing Arts Center, and the Santa Fe Jazz Foundation, in collaboration with the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe and other organizations, as well as numerous financial supporters, national and local. Together, these groups have orchestrated a premier celebration of jazz freedom and exhilaration.
It’s all good—just check out the full list of public events below—but some of it is even better. Picks below are noted with an asterisk in the schedule.
Doug Lawrence Quartet
The lead tenor for the Count Basie Orchestra has a big, warm tone, a deep, old-school feeling and a helluva drummer.
The Jazz Loft Project
Some of the most important jazz artists of the ’50s and ’60s hung out at a warehouse space in Manhattan's flower district, where W. Eugene Smith made thousands of hours of recordings and shot tens of thousands of photos. Author Sam Stephenson has documented it in his latest book, The Jazz Loft Project, and he’ll share some of what he’s learned. Free, but reservations strongly recommended.
Bitches Brew Revisited
Cindy Blackman, James Blood Ulmer, DJ Logic, Marco Benevento, Graham Haynes, Antoine Roney, Melvin Gibbs and Adam Rudolph explore Miles Davis’ electric and, for many, electrifying fusion revolution.
Miguel Zenón and Los Pleneros de la 21
A MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, saxophonist Zenón and the renowned bomba y plena music ensemble and community organization Los Pleneros mix strong contemporary jazz with the folkloric music of its native Puerto Rico. In this collaboration, neither jazz nor plena gets diluted.
NEA Jazz Master Toshiko Akiyoshi Quartet
Albuquerque’s jazz eminence Bobby Shew played lead trumpet in the famed Akiyoshi-Tabackin Big Band in the ’70s, and all three will come together again with Albuquerque’s preeminent large jazz ensemble.