Vanilla Pop Quiz

Laura Marrich
3 min read
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As of press time, Martini Grille has been handed 22 liquor-law violation citations, and its future as a bar is looking pretty shaky. (Remember, it only takes three strikes to get your license suspended.) But even with that uncertain haze hanging around the East Nob Hill venue, one thing’s crystal: Vanilla Pop has left the building.

Lester Moore and Al Dente announced at their Wednesday, June 18, show that it was their final appearance at Martini Grille. And with that, five years of weekly Vanilla Pop engagements at Martini Grille—and by extension, Albuquerque—have come to an end. The Vegas-ized pop cover duo is based in Taos, you see.

All’s not lost, though. Moore and Dente say they’ll use the break from driving to Burque to record and work on their tans. And you can still quench your thirst for Vanilla Pop in Albuquerque, just not as often: The duo comes to town the first Friday of the month for a standing gig at the
Q Bar, inside Hotel Albuquerque, at 9:30 p.m. You can always demand more of New Mexico’s best-kept entertainment secret at Moore and Dente say they’re available for hog tossings, too.

Free Jazz

Why is it that jazz, with its gritty, gin joint origins and cast of unsavory characters, so often gets shoved into the "hoity-toity" bin? I think it boils down to economics. Live jazz concerts require at least double the cover it takes to get into a comparable rock or hip-hop venue. (You can scare up a jazz trio or two near the restrooms of high-end restaurants near and far, but the acoustics aren’t doing anyone any favors, and the "free" entertainment is built into the price of your meal.) Good jazz in a worthwhile setting will cost you. Except for this week.

On Thursday, June 26, the revamped Warehouse 21 (see this week’s "Spotlight" over yonder) is offering a free master class taught by L.A. Studio Artist
Rob Mullins. Mullins is a jazz multi-instrumentalist who at the age of 16 began touring with Blue Note vocalist Dianne Reeves and eventually earned a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to study under George Russell (the guy Miles Davis and John Coltrane turned to for music theory). He’s spent the last 30 years working as a Yamaha music artist, producer, composer, teacher and clinician. And this Thursday, he’ll pass along his pearls on producing commercially viable CDs, song writing (in any style), practicing, promotion and finding success in the music business.

The class is from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Warehouse 21’s beautiful new digs (1614 Paseo de Peralta) in Santa Fe. It’s open to all emerging musicians, from teens on up to adults.

Wait a few days, then hit the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort on Sunday, June 29. The Tamaya Jazz Fest is plotting out six hours of free, regional jazz performances in the facility’s Sunrise Amphitheater from 2 to 8 p.m. The one-and-only
Hillary Smith headlines at 6:30 p.m. She’s preceded by the Transit Latin Jazz Ensemble (4:30 p.m.), a three-decade-old jazz, salsa and R&B outfit featuring hyper-active trombonist Ed Ulman; and the Bert Dalton Trio (2:30 p.m.), whose pianist namesake is also the music director of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico.

Call (505) 867-1234 or visit for more information. And if you’re planning on making a night of it, I’m happy to say room discounts are available.
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