The 17th annual New Mexico Jazz Festival brings a host of live musical acts, art, and more to Northern New Mexico for three weeks in September. A collaborative project between two of the most respected non-profit jazz presenters in New Mexico, the festival features concerts and events in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, as well as affiliated events in Taos, by major touring artists, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters, and respected New Mexico-based jazz, international, rhythm and blues, and Latin music practitioners September 7-30.
The festival, which is hosted by the Outpost Performance Space and the Lensic Performing Arts Center, kicks off with a full weekend of concerts and events at the Outpost. Scheduled to perform are: Santa Fe based drummer John Trentacosta’s Drummin’ Man: Gene Krupa (September 7); Ingrid Laubrock-Tom Rainey duo with a “Dino’s Safe Haven” concert (September 8). The Safe Haven Concert Series honors renowned sound designer and composer-improviser and long-time New Mexico resident J.A. Dean (Dino), who died in 2021. Also on opening weekend at Outpost is Grammy award-winning Cuban-born drummer, composer and bandleader Dafnis Prieto’s Cantar, featuring Brazilian-born singer, Luciana Souza (September 9) and the traditional New Mexico Jazz Festival Inpost Artspace Reception (September 10). The exhibition, titled In Flight: Taken at the Outpost, features photography by Mark Weber and Roch Doran, with musical entertainment by the Cal Haines Quartet.
Then, it’s a full weekend at the Lensic Performing Arts Center with NEA Jazz Master violinist Regina Carter Quintet (September 14); virtuoso jazz vibraphonist master Stefon Harris and Blackout (September 15); eight-time Grammy Award winning bassist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and educator Christian McBride and his latest band, featuring young rising star players (September 16); and the multi-Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra (September 17).
Also, in Santa Fe that weekend, retired NEA chair, jazz historian, and poet A.B. Spellman returns for another engaging Meet the NEA Jazz Master with Regina Carter before the Regina Carter Quartet concert (September 14); Willard Jenkins and A.B. Spellman: Ain’t But a Few of Us – A Conversation, will focus on the recently released book Ain’t But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story, which Jenkins edited and to which Spellman contributed (September 15, Collected Works Bookstore); and, once again, it’s a special Jazz Brunch, presented at and in partnership with Dave’s Jazz Bistro at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. This year’s brunch features internationally acclaimed clarinetist Eddie Daniels and his Santa Fe Quartet (September 16).
Next, back in Albuquerque, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra will perform at the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater (September 18) in an ongoing partnership with the New Mexico Jazz Workshop. The Outpost will also host the following: Grammy nominated saxophonist Donny McCaslin (September 21); Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin and Phoenix (September 25); innovative drummer Cindy Blackman Santana and her band (September 26); Grammy Award-winning pianist Sullivan Fortner Trio (September 27); guitarist, composer, arranger, lyricist, and songwriter Joel Harrison with Gary Versace, Greg Tardy and EJ Strickland (September 28); 26-year-old piano phenom Connie Han Trio (September 29); and We ARE Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland (September 30).
The New Mexico Jazz Festival also hosts free events, partnering once again with the City of Albuquerque to present Blues Night on Civic Plaza in Albuquerque (September 24) and new this year, Blues at the Railyard in Santa Fe (September 23), which is sponsored by the City of Santa Fe and the New Mexico Music Commission. Blues at the Railyard will feature the dynamic, throwback blues trio GA-20, self-described as “disciples of the place where traditional blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll intersect,” and guitarist and singer Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of Mississippi Hill Country Blues legend Junior Kimbrough. Blues Night on Civic Plaza in Albuquerque features blues harmonica virtuoso, singer, songwriter and guitarist Charlie Musselwhite, as well as GA-20 and New Mexico’s own soul vocalist Toni Morgan and Soulful Sounds.
Tickets are available online at NewMexicoJazzFestival.org, Lensic.org; in person at the Lensic Box Office, 211 W. San Francisco St., in Santa Fe, and by calling 505-988-1234. All acts subject to change.