Visiting With Friends from El Paso

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On my way to Cezanne to hear some El Paso friends, I stopped at Market Square Park to hear a free live concert featuring Bonerama, a New Orleans brass funk rock band. I only stayed for the first set because I wanted to get over to Cezanne right away to visit with Curt Warren and Ricky Malichi, but one set was long enough to get an ear full.

The band has a unique sound. As I listened, the image of a greasy shrimp po-boy popped into my head. The sometimes groovy, sometimes contrapuntal trombone lines represented an explosion of jazzy, funky flavour plastered all over the second-line foundation the rhythm section was laying down. There’s no mistaking that the band is from New Orleans.

Curt Warren and Ricky Malichi

Curt Warren and Ricky Malichi are both people I would consider jazz mentors from my time in El Paso. I lived in El Paso from 1978 to 1987 and it was there that I first became a jazz player. Ricky Malichi was the host of the first jazz jam sessions I ever attended and Curt was renowned as being El Paso‘s top jazz player (on any instrument) the entire time I was there. As Curt’s student, I took jazz improv as a class at UTEP for at least one year, I’m thinking maybe it was for two years. I also took one private lesson from Curt. In that lesson, Curt gave me copies of three pages of ii-V7-I licks that later played a prominent role in my development.

I “don’t get around much anymore“, or so the song goes. I hadn’t been out to see a live band in years, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with these guys while they were in town. I got to Cezanne with enough time to talk to the guys for a while before their first set. I stayed for the full set then came home. It’s always good to connect with the people who built me up when I needed them to. Both Ricky and Curt will eventually make it to my Life Builders list.

Ronnie Renfrow Big Band Gig

On Saturday night I played a big band gig with Ronnie Renfrow. It was a charity event for a group of nuns. I was playing lead trumpet, Nelson Mills was on the gig, playing and singing well as usual, and Louis Juarez (my friend who I hadn’t seen in years) was sitting to my right. It was great to hang out with all the guys I hadn’t seen in so long.

One of the highlights of the evening, for me, was to hear Louis and his wife, Gwen, perform with their own band, Accent. We traded sets with Accent.

This Week…

…is full with rehearsals, lessons and a gig with Franky Valli on Saturday night.

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