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NM musicians share stage for first time

Jazz singer Patti Littlefield will be on stage Thursday at the Outpost along with multi-instrumentalist Arlen Asher and their quintet.

Jazz singer Patti Littlefield will be on stage Thursday at the Outpost along with multi-instrumentalist Arlen Asher and their quintet.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Patti Littlefield will bring her voice. Arlen Asher will bring his alto sax, baritone sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and alto flute. And probably his bass flute.

They’ve admired each other’s music and they’ve wanted to perform together, but the opportunity did not arise.

“We’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” Asher said.

“It hadn’t happened, but we decided to make it happen,” added Littlefield.

The two New Mexico musicians will finally converge on stage for the first time on Thursday, April 24 at the Outpost Performance Space. They will lead a quintet that also has pianist Brian Bennett, bassist Michael Olivola and drummer John Trentacosta.

Littlefield said the program will explore “the different avenues of love – the excitement of new love, the heartbreak of love, … the healing aspect of love. I think that life is all about love.”

She will sing some songs composed by Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Shirley Horn and one written by Littlefield’s late friend Jennifer Robin.

“It’s called ‘A Place to Call Home.’ There was a YouTube of her singing ‘Come Rain or Come Shine.’ Then I saw her singing at a restaurant. We became fast friends and we did a couple of shows together,” Littlefield said.

“She died a year ago January after a raging fight against cancer. She was one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. I just want to keep her music alive.”

Littlefield said Asher doesn’t have any preference of what the quintet should play. He just wants to fit the right instrument to the song.

“We pretty much left the lion’s share of songs up to me. But I chose them keeping Arlen in mind,” she said.

“And everything has to resonate with me emotionally. … I like to do a lot of improv.”

Littlefield said Asher and the band might play a few numbers without her.

She said that she and Asher feel fortunate to have Bennett, Olivola and Trentacosta play with them. “These guys are accomplished. You always learn from the people you play with,” Littlefield said.

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