Last week I went to go see the UNM Jazz Combos perform. I was super excited for this outing. It was on a Thursday which was good get me through the rest of the week sort of even. Plus, I got to explore downtown Albuquerque for the first time. This was one of the off-campus performances of the jazz ensembles from UNM Department of Music. There are plenty of other awesome events from the UNM Department of Music to go to off campus and explore. It was also a free event which makes it all 10x better.

The event started at 8:00 pm at Hotel Andaluz. I got there early and right off the bat I was amazed by the place. The venue was so fancy, but I was slightly confused if the performances were happening there. There was a restaurant to the right and the reception desk further back tucked back in a room. Bright colored glass was in front of the elevators and was the backdrop for the musicians. There were lots of comfy couches and I got a seat closest to the performers. The second floor overlooked the main space with additional seating providing more space for the audience and down below there was a small fountain in the room with a few fish. To say the least, it was fancy place.

I got there early and watched the first combo warm up. There was a total of five groups all with various instruments. The first group had an upright string bass as well as an electric bass, drum set, trumpet, trombone and saxophone, both a tenor and bass. This was a really great opening group. A core part of jazz is the improvised instrumental solos and in my opinion some of the greatest music played. Being a violinist and classically trained in music theory, European music history and ethnomusicology, I think there’s just something really cool about knowing these musicians played something completely off the fly while sounding like it totally fits.

Some of the highlights from the various combos were the xylophone solos from the second combo and the electric jazz organ. Something I also learned was that drummers bring their own cymbals which I didn’t ever really think about before seeing the ensembles switch after their pieces. Most of the musicians were music majors of some variety (everything from music education to jazz studies) but some were playing just for the class.

Each piece was exciting and unique and was a great way to spend a few hours away from campus and school. It gave me a great excuse to go explore downtown Albuquerque and see the cute shops here and there. I definitely see myself continuing to go watch more performances since it is a great way to see what other events there is at UNM.

I hope you all have been able to find a midweek event to enjoy and get you through until the end of the semester! Only 5 more weeks until finals so good luck!

Anna