Touchstones for the soul

Dmitri Matheny Group returns to play jazz at KTAOS Solar Center

By M. Elwell Romancito
Posted 8/11/17

Flügelhornist Dmitri Matheny is returning Friday (Aug. 11) with a show beginning at 8 p.m. at the KTAOS Solar Center.

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Touchstones for the soul

Dmitri Matheny Group returns to play jazz at KTAOS Solar Center


Flügelhornist Dmitri Matheny is returning Friday (Aug. 11) with a show beginning at 8 p.m. at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. Tickets for the show are $12.

This will be the fifth time Matheny has played at the Solar Center. Even so, he started playing in Taos in the 1990s when Maggie Considine put on the Jazz Festival and brought Frank Morgan to town along with other jazz legends. This will be Matheny’s 13th visit to the area.

Like his last visit, Matheny is bringing Bert Dalton on piano, Andy Zadrozny on bass and John Trentacosta on drums.

“I’m bringing the same cats, of course – my favorite New Mexico rhythm section. I call them the ‘Land of Enchantment Wrecking Crew.’ We’ve been friends and making music together for nearly 20 years. They’re some of my favorite musicians, some of my favorite people anywhere,” Matheny said.

If you follow Matheny on Facebook, it seems like he never stops. Tempo asked him about some of the best ways he’s found to relax while on tour.

“Yeah, I’m on the road about 200 nights a year, playing mostly one-nighters, moving from town to town. I love this nomadic lifestyle, but it can definitely make a man feel weary and more than a little lonesome,” he said. “I’ve learned that it’s important to maintain certain rituals when traveling: the morning coffee, the afternoon nap, the evening walk. I listen to my favorite podcasts every night before bed. These daily rituals create a sense of continuity for me and help me to feel at home no matter where I happen to be. This week, I have a few days off between our concerts in Albuquerque and Taos, so I’m renting a quiet little cottage in Abiquiú where I can do a little writing and a lot of relaxing.”

Matheny added that it’s also comforting to visit friends and return year after year to places where, he said, “I feel a certain affinity – a hip old diner in L.A., a vintage comic book store in Kalamazoo, a cool little ramen joint in Rochester.”

These touchstones for Matheny sound like locations from movies in the noir tradition, and that’s no coincidence. His newest album is called “Jazz Noir” and offers a fresh spin on what he calls “crime jazz” from film noir’s timeless classics, like the theme from the movie “Laura” and newer pieces, such as “Audrey’s Dance” from the twisted “Twin Peaks” series by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch.

Critically, the new album is being received well and is helping to power him around the country.

“People really seem to dig the ‘Jazz Noir’ vibe. It’s gotten good reviews, decent airplay – and sales have been strong enough that we’re now in our second pressing. The real thrill, however, is in performing this music live,” Matheny said.

At 29, after launching a busy recording career on the West Coast, Matheny made his New York debut at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, then began touring internationally.

His soulful horn has garnered praise from critics and audiences. He has often received frequent comparisons to Miles Davis, Chet Baker and also his mentor, Art Farmer. Matheny had studied under Farmer. Upon Farmer’s passing in 1999, Matheny acquired his mentor’s copper-bell flügelhorn.

Matheny has appeared in concert with several jazz luminaries, such as Larry Coryell, Nathan Davis, Amina Figarova, Tommy Flanagan, Wycliffe Gordon, Darrell Grant, Larry Grenadier, John Handy, Billy Higgins, Red Holloway, Denise Jannah, James Moody, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, Margo Reed, Tony Reedus, Sam Rivers, Max Roach, Dennis Rowland, the Rosenberg Trio, Bud Shank, Sonny Simmons, Mary Stallings, Akira Tana, Billy Taylor, Bobby Watson and Paula West.

Tempo asked him what his current projects are. As usual, he had plenty to say.

“Lately, I’ve been on a treasure hunt for compelling melodies from a variety of other genres and arranging them for the band. I believe that jazz is more of a process than a style of music. Any song with good bones can be given a jazz interpretation,” he explained. “This season, for example, our show includes ‘Close To You’ by Burt Bacharach, ‘Wichita Lineman’ by Jimmy Webb and ‘Black Hole Sun’ by Chris Cornell. All of them make terrific jazz tunes.”

He also said he’s been working on some new original music called “Cascadia Suite” for an upcoming performance at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, Washington.

To get tickets for the concert, visit, contact KTAO at (575) 758-5826 or visit For more information about Matheny, videos and music, visit his website at


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