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New Mexico native takes time off from Juilliard to play with ‘very different’ collective

Trumpeter JQ Whitcomb will perform with Tierra Sonikete during a show at The High Note in Santa Fe.

Trumpeter JQ Whitcomb will perform with Tierra Sonikete during a show at The High Note in Santa Fe.

JQ Whitcomb’s time off from The Juilliard School in New York City has been spent performing shows in Santa Fe.

And the trumpeter has one more lined up for Sunday at The High Note in Santa Fe.

The New Mexico native will be performing with Tierra Sonikete, a flamenco jazz collective that features himself, guitarist Joaquin Gallegos and bassist Justin Bransford.

“We are usually a quartet, and we’re hoping this show will be,” he says. “We’re figuring out who will be on percussion for the show and have just enough time to figure all of that out. It will be some flamenco jazz for the audience to enjoy, which is very different from the typical jazz that’s usually played.”

Whitcomb and crew began the ensemble a few years ago and would play regularly in the state before Whitcomb left to join the master’s program for jazz trumpet performance at Juilliard. He began the two-year program this fall.

“It’s weird to be back in school after all this time,” he says. “But I’m keeping busy on all avenues. I’ve gotten to relax a little since being back in Santa Fe. It’s always about work and moving forward with the music.”

In between the shows, Whitcomb has also been in the studio working on a recording session for another musician.

And when he’s not busy with any of that, he can be found writing and arranging his own music.

“Lately, I’ve been arranging more of large-group stuff,” he says. “I’m not sure if I’ll end up even playing it. It’s something that I’ve never really tried before. I like to stick to a lot of the classics. I’ll rearrange them from time to time to keep it all fresh.”

Whitcomb will continue to work on new music and plans to release another album in the coming year.