Teatime trumpet, jazz cats and beer on tap. It used to be commonplace to have great jazz musicians play a concert in midafternoon where drummer Pete Amahl grew up on the East Coast. He recalls …
Teatime trumpet, jazz cats and beer on tap. It used to be commonplace to have great jazz musicians play a concert in midafternoon where drummer Pete Amahl grew up on the East Coast. He recalls heading out in his teenage years for the daytime shows. Amahl and the rest of the Taos Jazz Bebop Society aim to bring that tradition here to Taos.
This Sunday (Feb. 10), the Taos Jazz Bebop Society rolls out a monthly midafternoon free jazz series with the Pete Amahl Trio and featured trumpeter and vocalist Christine Fawson. This month's "Jazz on Tap" show starts at 1 p.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west.
"We've done one major free event every year," said Eric Gladstone of the Taos Jazz Bebop Society. "This year we decided to try and do a monthly free event."
Gladstone told me the vision for the monthly show is to feature the great jazz musicians of New Mexico.
"Pete Amahl knows everyone and everything about jazz in New Mexico since the '70s," Gladstone said. Amahl was one of the founding members of the New Mexico Jazz Workshop and has played with Natalie Cole, Mose Allison, Frank Morgan and many others.
I spoke with Amahl about what he has in mind for the Sunday afternoon show. Amahl will be playing with pianist Chris Ishee and bassist Andy Zadrozny, as well as Christine Fawson.
"I wanted it to be sort of old-school where we play all the straight ahead bop tunes, and everybody had carte blanche to take it anywhere moment to moment - to me it's like swinging and communication and spontaneous movement. So, that's how I'm viewing this concert," said Amahl.
"I told Christine we're going to play hard-core and straight ahead," Amahl added.
Amahl told me he met Fawson at a house concert recently and was amazed by her performance.
"I was playing with pretty good people - they were more than pretty good. But when she stepped in she just lifted the band to another level. … I didn't know anything about her. She just sat in and played her trumpet, and she sang. And it was at a very high level. She's truly a great player. She's very well-schooled and a true musician."
From 2002-13, Fawson was a member of the vocal jazz group Syncopation. In 2009, the group was featured with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the Fourth of July Celebration in Boston. From 2004-2007, Fawson played trumpet with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, playing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater and Lincoln Center.
Fawson told me she grew up singing in church and with her family. She was the youngest of five siblings. In the sixth grade, she picked up the trumpet. When I asked Fawson why she chose the trumpet, she said it was because she was a tomboy. Her older brother played the trombone and she did everything with him - riding bikes, catching lizards. So, she picked a brass instrument that was similar to his.
"I liked the power of it, the strength," said Fawson.
According to Fawson, it's not so unusual for brass instrumentalists also to be singers. She pointed to Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Clark Terry and Chet Baker, noting the best brass players are also good singers.
Fawson noted that the list gets longer when you open it up to other kinds of players. Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan were all pianists as well as singers.
"Once you look into it you realize a lot of singers are playing," said Fawson.
A year and a half ago, Fawson moved to New Mexico with her husband who is also a trumpeter, and their young daughter. They moved from Boston where Fawson was teaching at the Berklee College of Music. She said they were ready for a change. And, from the sounds of it, the change has been positive.
"I'm playing more music here. I love it," said Fawson. "I'm just working on projects and what I want to do."
This will be Fawson's first time playing in Taos. For more information, visit christinefawson.com.
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