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Jazz and all that

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two themes seem to stand out at the seventh annual New Mexico Jazz Festival. One is women in jazz. The other is jazz vocalists.

“Something I’m happy about is that there are these great women jazz performers,” said Tom Guralnick, a co-artistic director of the festival and the executive director of the Outpost Performance Space.

In all, there are four women headlining festival concerts, and two of the four vocalists are well-known ladies of jazz.

Festival lineup
Here is the list of concerts of the seventh annual New Mexico Jazz Festival:
⋄ Stephane Wrembel Ensemble, 8 tonight, Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. $25 general public, $20 students and Outpost members.
⋄ Leni Stern & The Masters of African Percussion, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Old Town Plaza. Free.
⋄ Doug Lawrence Organ Trio, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at the Santa Fe Plaza. Free.
⋄ Regina Carter Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe. $45, $35, $25 and $15.
⋄ Justin Ray Project, 8 p.m. July 20 at the Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. $25 general public, $20 students and Outpost members.
⋄ The Route 66 Summerfest in Nob Hill. The street party is from 2-10:30 p.m. with a total of 20 bands on three stages. Free.
⋄ Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, 7:30 p.m. July 22 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe. $45, $35, $25 and $15.
⋄ Ravi Coltrane Quartet, 8 p.m. July 25 and 26 at the Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. $35 general public, $30 students and Outpost members.
⋄ Dianne Reeves and Sheila Jordan, 7:30 p.m. July 27 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe. $60, $45, $35 and $25.
⋄ Kurt Elling and Jon Hendricks, 7:30 p.m. July 28 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe. $60, $45, $35 and $25.
⋄ A.B. Spellman and Albuquerque poet laureate Hakim Bellamy, 2 p.m. July 29, Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. Free.
⋄ Kurt Elling, 8 p.m. July 29, Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. $35 general public, $30 students and Outpost members.
Tickets for festival events are available in advance at the Outpost or at the Lensic box office, by calling 268-0044 or 505-988-1234 or online at For festival information visit
In conjunction with the festival, a Paul Slaughter photography exhibit titled “Portraits of Jazz 1969-2012” is at the Outpost through Aug. 31.

Jazz singers Dianne Reeves and NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan share the Lensic Performance Arts Center stage in Santa Fe on July 27. The two male vocalists are Kurt Elling and Jon Hendricks.

The female instrumentalists at the festival are singer-guitarist Leni Stern, who is performing with her band, the Masters of African Percussion, on Saturday, July 14. It’s a free concert at the Old Town Plaza.

The fourth woman is jazz violinist Regina Carter. She’ll be in concert with her band on Thursday, July 19, at the Lensic.

Carter said the concert program will probably include some of the compositions that are on her 2010 album, “Reverse Thread.” The music on the CD incorporates African folk melodies.

Growing up in Detroit, she heard music from many cultures and over the years held onto those sounds in her head.

“Once I became a jazz musician, I wanted to do a world-music record, but the label felt there was no outlet, if you will, for those types of records. But I still wanted to do it,” Carter said in a phone interview from her home in Maywood, N.J.

“This project started with a completely different idea, but I feel the music always leads me where I need to be.”

She decided to use a portion of the Genius grant she received from the MacArthur Foundation to pay for the cost of self-producing the album.

Carter will be in concert at the Lensic with bassist Chris Lightcap, accordionist Will Holshouser, drummer Alvester Garnett and kora player Yacouba Sissoko on kora, a West African double-bridge harp-lute.

Carter said she is in the middle of researching music for a new project.

“I was on and tracing my family. My dad’s dad was a coal miner in Alabama and I was wondering, ‘What was the music when he was coming up?’ ” she said. “I am finding interesting stuff. Sacred harp music I am now checking out. There are some railroad pieces by gandy dancers, some prison songs.”

French-born guitarist-composer Stephane Wrembel opens the festival with a concert tonight at the Outpost Performance Space. Though steeped in Gypsy jazz, he has taken his music past that. In fact, he said, the music has so many strains there is probably no way to categorize his compositions. The music on his latest album, “Origins,” is a case in point.

“The first and last cuts were inspired by my visiting the New Mexico desert the last time I was out there. One is a variation of the other,” Wrembel said.

The initial cut is “The Voice From the Desert” and the 14th cut is “Carbon 14.”

“There is something in the desert in New Mexico that I felt. You can’t explain it. But there is less activity, less life and more inner silence. It’s a very deep experience,” Wrembel said.

He and his ensemble will perform the album in its entirety, but with more solos and deeper interpretations, Wrembel said.

Inside the “Origins” CD booklet there is an extended quote from the late astrophysicist-cosmologist Carl Sagan because Wrembel said it relates to his own creation of music for the album.

He said he’s fascinated with Sagan’s ability “to articulate scientific ideas and he put them in very poetic and literary terms for us to understand. … What struck me is that he observed that by seeing Earth as a small point in the universe, it reduces humanity to a very small scale.”

Trumpeter Justin Ray, a former Albuquerque resident, said his July 20 festival concert at the Outpost will be the release date of his new CD, “Love Songs.”

“It’s a combination jazz-beatnik project,” Ray said in a phone interview. “What I did was I took some poems by people like Allen Ginsberg and Pablo Neruda, poems that were reminiscent of my youth … and scored that for trumpet, sax, bass and percussion.”

When he’s not playing the trumpet in an original song, he’ll be reading poetry.

For the second set of the concert, Ray has invited a string quartet to combine with his jazz quartet to perform an extended work of his.

“I’ve listened to a lot of (Maurice) Ravel, (Peter) Tchaikovsky. That inspired me to give this a shot. And I’m a jazz musician who’s definitely been influenced by Wayne Shorter and Horace Silver,” he said.

Other festival highlights are the Route 66 Nob Hill Summerfest on July 21 with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Doug Lawrence Organ Trio on the main stage; New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint with the Dirty Dozen on July 22 at the Lensic; and the Ravi Coltrane Quartet on July 25 and 26 at the Outpost.

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