Taking Schwarzenegger To The Cleaners
In mid-July, Betty and I attended a concert at the Albuquerque Museum of Art's handsome outdoor amphitheatre. While there were no big bands present, the event was nonetheless importantsome might say historicfor a couple of reasons.
First, the headliner was the great trumpeter Bobby Shew, an Albuquerque native who's been so busy conquering the world that he hasn't had time to perform often in his hometown. Second, Shew chose the occasion to make official what a number of his friends and admirers already knewthat after more than three decades in California, he and his wife were leaving this month (August) and returning to live in Corrales, a small town that straddles Albuquerque's northwest border.
They didn't want to leave, he said, but fell victim to one of the most preposterous laws ever upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, that of eminent domain. In brief, the state of California decided it wished to build a school where Bobby's house stood, and under the law there was nothing he could do about it (and nothing you could either, if it happened to you). He had no choice but to sell.
Unbeknownst to the state, however, Shew had an ace up his sleeve. As a working musician, the house was not only a dwelling place but also a place of business, with a recording studio and other facilities on the premises. "After two years studying the law and hiring an attorney, he said, "I'm happy to say that I took the state of California to the cleaners, a pronouncement that earned him the evening's first standing ovation. Shew said he had made enough on the deal to throw his trumpet away forever"but I'm not going to. Another huge round of applause.
Having gotten that out of the way, Shew went straight to work, leading a splendid quintet comprised of tenor saxophonist Glenn Kostur, pianist Pat Rhoads, bassist Milo Jaramillo and drummer Andy Polling and opening with one of the great old standards, Kurt Weill's "Speak Low. The first set also included Rogers Grant's "Morning Star, Tom Harrell's "Terrestris and two more standards, the charming "Green Dolphin Street and Hoagy Carmichael's seductive "Skylark. Set two opened with an original, "Breakfast Wine, then covered Benny Golson's "Whisper Not, Blue Mitchell's "Fungii Mama, Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow Of Your Smile and Dizzy's "A Night In Tunisia. The audience clamored for an encore, and the group obliged with an up-tempo reading of "Lotus Blossom.
It was great to see and hear Shew onstage in Albuquerque again, playing superbly as always, and his return should give the jazz scene in these parts a wonderful shot in the arm. After the concert, I handed him my card. "Another one? he said, almost shoving it back in my hand. "I already have about nine of your cards! "You mean you actually keep them? I said. (Well, I didn't actually say that, but I did think of it as soon as I'd reached the parking lot. Another missed opportunity).
It's Festival Time!
The "first annual New Mexico Jazz Festival was held July 20-29 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Betty and I skipped the events in the capital city, which included pianist McCoy Tyner's septet, the Rebirth Brass Brand with Los Hombres Calientes, the Newport Jazz All-Stars' tribute to impresario George Wein, and the Branford Marsalis Quartet. But we went to the plaza in Albuquerque's Old Town on July 22 for a concert by Tetragon, a hard-bop sextet led by trumpeter Paul Gonzales. The band also features tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence and trombonist/percussionist Cesar Bauvallet in front of a rhythm section comprised of pianist Steve Figueroa, bassist Luis Guerra and drummer Brandon Draper.
Five days later, we were at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for a dynamic performance by the New York-based Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra led by pianist Arturo O'Farrill. Thanks to Wynton Marsalis, the nineteen-piece orchestra is in residence at Jazz at Lincoln Center and plays often in the Center's state-of-the-art Frederick P. Rose auditorium. O'Farrill brought many of the regulars along, including saxophonists Bobby Porcelli, Erica von Kleist, Pablo Calogero and "El Comandante, Mario Rivera, trombonists Reynaldo Jorge and Douglas Purviance, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, bassist Ruben Rodriguez and drummer Vince Cherico. Ivan Renta was listed on tenor sax but apparently wasn't there, as O'Farrill several times called the tenor soloist "Peter, and I wasn't able to catch the last name.