Mixed Media The Frank Morgan Taos Jazz Festival
Bob Dorough, Grace Kelly, Lorca Hart, and Reggie Austin are the headliners at the second annual Frank Morgan Taos Jazz Festival, Nov. 16-19. The event, presented by the Taos Bebop Society and sponsored by the Taos Inn, is held in tribute to the late, great saxophonist who lived in Taos in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Morgan, a native of Minneapolis, moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and by the early 1950s was gigging and recording with Kenny Clarke, Lionel Hampton, and Milt Jackson. He was a devotee of another alto saxophonist, the bebop innovator Charlie “Bird” Parker, and unfortunately also picked up Parker’s jones for heroin. Morgan was incarcerated for decades in San Quentin State Prison, but he kept up his chops making music with saxophonists Art Pepper and Dexter Gordon, and even had a band. N.C. Heikin, director of the 2014 film Sound of Redemption: The
Frank Morgan Story, told the Taos News that the convict jazz combo was so good that tickets to their shows — in the prison — were a hot item in the Bay Area. In the mid-1980s, Morgan kicked the addiction and produced more than a dozen vital albums — Major Changes with McCoy Tyner and
Quiet Fire with Bud Shank are two of the best — before his death in 2007. The festival opens with a free concert by pianist Austin, an old friend of Morgan’s; drummer Hart (the son of legendary drummer Billy Hart); and Santa Fe bass player Andy Zadrozny. The trio plays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Taos Inn (125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte). At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, there will be a free screening of the 2015 documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about singer, pianist, and activist Nina Simone at the Taos Community Auditorium, Taos Center for the Arts (145 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte). Contributions are gratefully accepted.
Singer and pianist Dorough appears in concert on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Harwood Museum of Art (238 Ledoux St.). A veteran of work with Blossom Dearie, Phil Woods, and Miles Davis, Dorough performs in Taos with Simone’s guitarist, Al Schackman; drummer Lorca Hart; and bassist Edward Harrington of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25; call 575-758-9826 to reserve.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Grace Kelly Quartet performs. The dynamic young saxophonist and singer plays with pianist Josh Nelson, Hart, and Harrington at 7:30 p.m. at Taos Mesa Brewing (20 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado). Tickets, $18-$25, are available from www.holdmyticket.com/ tickets/257999. For more information about the festival, call 575-758-3147 or see www.taosjazz.org. — Paul Weideman