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Swing time

Jazz Happening returns to Mesilla Plaza


LAS CRUCES - The Mesilla Valley Jazz & Blues Society presents the 19th Annual Jazz Happening in Mesilla Friday-Sunday, Oct. 4-6.

The lineup:

Friday, 6-9 p.m.

  • Don Felix Café – Coolside Collective
  • Hacienda de Mesilla – The Jim Helder Trio
  • Josephina’s Old Gate – Roman Chip W/ Billy Townes
  • La Posta – Ruben Gutierrez Trio
  • Lescombes Winery & Bistro – Derek Lee Trio
  • NM Vintage Wines – Chris Sanders & Bob Hull

Saturday, Jazz on the Plaza

  • 1:15-2:15 p.m., The Border Jazz Quartet
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m., Havana Quintet
  • 3:45-5 p.m., Noteworks

Sunday, Jazz on the Plaza

  • 1-2 p.m., Bassanova with Manny Flores
  • 2:15-3:15 p.m., Jazz Unlimited Big Band
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m., Supersax of the Southwest
  • 4:45-6 p.m., Fernie Lechuga and Azucar

For Plaza events, stadium seating is available but limited. Lawn chairs and blankets are advised.

The performers:

  • Border Jazz Quartet, with Roman Chip on horns, plays original and famous compositions.
  • The Havana Quintet brings a Latin jazz flair for dancing. The band features David Rodriguez, bass and band leader; Neftali Milian, sax; Carlos Barba, keyboards; Ivan Medina, congas; and Carmelo Camero, drums.
  • Noteworks of El Paso creates a blend of traditional jazz with contemporary sounds, with many original compositions. They are trumpeter Mike Middleton, bassist Curt Bushaw, pianist Billy Townes, Las Cruces percussionist Ruben Galvan and Santa Fe saxophonist Dan Borton.
  • Bassanova with Manny Flores is a quartet playing Brazilian music. The band is Manny Flores Jr., bass (El Paso); Byron Mutnick, drums (El Paso); Juan Francisco Anguiano, bass and guitar (Mexico City); and Javier Medina, saxes, flute and vocals (Los Angeles).
  • Dr. Walter Carr started the Jazz Unlimited Big Band as a rehearsal group in 1991. The leadership of the group passed to Tommy Fraga in 1993 and in 2002 to Rusty Hall, an alto sax player who had been with the band nearly since its formation. The group provides entertainment for various charitable organizations throughout the region for free. It has a repertoire of more than 120 songs from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s in the big band popular song style.
  • Supersax of the Southwest is the dream child of Dr. James Helder, president of Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society, who creates many of the group’s arrangements.
  • Fernie Lechuga and Azucar: Fernando Lechuga was born in Cd. Juarez, where he attended elementary and later a business school, before moving to El Paso. His father Roman Lechuga, an accomplished pianist, first introduced him to music, and became his first teacher. Fernando began working as a professional musician at age 17 with various well-known groups in the Borderland. He started Azucar in 1975, best known for spicy rhythms such as salsa and merengue.

The cost of underwriting the Plaza Concert comes from: La Posta de Mesilla, Town of Mesilla, ¡Andele! Restaurante, Dental Associates, PA, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Amy McNulty, Atrium Physical Therapy, Jeanette Smith, Brooks Lewis, Aletta Wilson, White’s Music Box, Statistical Designs, Citizen’s Bank, Hoop-T-Dudes, Melody Burns, Justin Oberman, Arturo and Mary Lou Moreno, David Welch and Judith McNeil, Counseling Las Cruces, A&R Special Tees, The Bean Café, Sun-Tech Services and Wild Birds Unlimited.

The Mesilla Jazz Happening and the Red, White & Blues festivals are the signature events of the Mesilla Valley Jazz & Blues Society designed to promote an appreciation of jazz and blues as art forms and create opportunities for aspiring and established musicians through public performances, monthly meetings, concerts and student scholarships.

Their monthly concert is held the third Sunday at the First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo Road.

The Society was founded in 2006 and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Membership is $20/year for individuals, $30 for families and $5 for students. The Mesilla Valley Jazz & Blues Society will have a tent at the back of the Mesilla Plaza with members in light blue shirts available to answer questions and provide membership forms.  

Visit mvjazzblues.net.


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