Tiny’s is upping its jazz game, and most of the credit belongs to Mark Sanchez and his band Round Trip Ticket. With that in mind, I put the incident in which it cost my girlfriend and me 11 bucks for two cans of Tecate (not kidding) behind me and returned to Tiny’s to check out the jazz scene.
Admittedly, with years in the service industry and the subsequent nonstop smooth jazz that such work entails, I have a bit of a jazz phobia. I don’t hate the entire genre; I just hate clowns like Kenny G or whoever else writes bullshit for doctors’ offices. I’m not saying that Kenny G is some sort of official jazz delegate, just that his albums are filed under jazz in any record store.
Round Trip Ticket has been playing Wednesday nights since April ’09, and the recent addition of vocalist Susan Abod on alternating Wednesdays demonstrates the expanded efforts at Tiny’s.
But upon entering, I remembered why I think the place sucks. It’s depressing as hell, and I’ve seen broken-down palettes that would make better stages. It was like walking into a low-budget quinceañera from the ’70s, with really bright lighting casting a terrible pallor on the derelict stage and on a group identified by a sign that read “Santa Fe Singles.”
During his mid-show banter, Sanchez—who is known as Chief or Chief-O to his friends—emanated Louis Armstrong’s youthful, effortless charm. After each song, he connected with the crowd in a way that made him quite accessible, someone I’d have a drink with.
Sanchez’ trumpet mastery, mixed with the quirky improvisational nuances employed by most great horn players, was captivating. But as the band navigated its way through a Horace Silver number, Sanchez never upstaged his fellow members. When it was time for another musician to take the spotlight, Sanchez would sway gently with the rhythm and close his eyes, just the hint of a smile on his face. Cal Haines on drums, Pat Malone on guitar and Dan Lizdas on organ filled out the local jazz ensemble. Sanchez’ brother David even sat in on the trombone and proved that talent runs in the family.
In fact, the music was performed so professionally and the band proved so very talented that I put my jazz hate on hold. But these events are clearly aimed at an older crowd, which is a pity, as the music blew me away. My strained relationship with jazz aside, the caliber of the performance made it universal, and I am sure the music would have been enjoyed by a larger and more diverse crowd than the handful of middle-aged patrons.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Tiny’s cares enough to offer its jazz events any marketing firepower beyond the bare minimum. In fact, SFR rarely received press releases from the venue before Abod began performing. Maybe now the age will change.
“Santa Fe can’t really be representative of jazz in, say, larger cities,” Abod says. “It’s an older scene here, whereas other parts of the country have young people going apeshit over it.”
With a little time and effort spent courting some younger musicians and fans, Tiny’s weekly jazz events would be less depressing.
“I want people to know this place exists,” Sanchez says, laughing. “It may be a nook and it may be a cranny, but it’s my nook and cranny.”
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