Free Jazz Jams concert series returns this week to downtown Farmington

Performances will take place at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday in Orchard Plaza

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − For the first time in nearly three years, the San Juan Jazz Society will present a new edition of its once-popular Jazz Jams series beginning this week in downtown Farmington.

The series, which features free jazz performances by a rotating cast of local musicians, has been on hiatus since December 2019. It was set to resume in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, but the rapid spread of the virus caused the cancellation of those plans.

Now, with the help of the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council, the series is set to return, albeit in a new home. Performances will resume at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 in Orchard Plaza, 1 N. Orchard Ave.

They will be held there at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday for as long as the weather permits, according to Flo Trujillo, president of the arts council.

San Juan Jazz Society president Delbert Anderson, who founded the series, said the performances have been moved from their former outdoor home in the HeArt Space behind the Studio 116 art gallery because that facility is no longer available. When the decision was made to resume the series this summer, Anderson and Trujillo worked together to secure the use of Orchard Plaza − home of the weekly Makers Market and TGIF concerts − for the events.

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Trujillo said another change to the series is that seating will not be provided by organizers, and audience members are asked to bring their own chairs or blankets.

The weekly Jazz Jams series, which has been on hiatus since December 2019, will resume this week in its new home in Orchard Plaza in downtown Farmington.

While a core of musicians will be on hand to perform each week, other local players are still being encouraged to take part, sitting in on certain numbers or throughout the performances, if they are up to it, Anderson said. He plans on putting together a set list a couple of days ahead of each performance and posting it on the jazz society's Facebook page so that anyone interested in participating can prepare.

"We're going to have a lot of help this time from younger musicians," he said, explaining that a group of teen jazz musicians that operates under the name The Third Hour will be joining their older counterparts onstage. "They're still in high school, but they have a lot of love for jazz standards."

Anderson said even though the Jazz Jams series was halted two and a half years ago, local music fans haven't forgotten about it. The series had a devoted following, regularly attracting crowds of nearly 100 people during the summertime performances at the HeArt Space.

"A lot of people have been asking about it," he said.

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Jazz Jams founder Delbert Anderson says the weekly performances will receive an infusion of youth when they return this week, with several local high school musicians taking part.

Trujillo said she is looking forward to the return of the series and is pleased to have the arts council serve as the cosponsor of the event.

"We are the fiscal agent of the San Juan Jazz Society, and we help them do fundraising and help them with grants," she said. "We are always looking for places and things to do with the arts downtown."

Trujillo said the HeArt Space provided a nice home for the event in its few couple of years, but she is looking forward to seeing what kind of crowds turn out for the series now in a more visible space.

"Some people didn't even know it was happening until they heard the music," she said, referring to the off-Main Street location of the HeArt Space.

Trujillo said she is hoping to lure a food truck or concessionaire to Orchard Plaza to sell food and drinks during the series. She said it's also possible the series may invite a local artist to create a painting during each week's performance, as was the custom before the series was discontinued.

While she isn't sure how many folks will turn out for the first installment of the series after such a long absence, Trujillo is hoping for at least two dozen people.

"If we can make it a fun event, a very exciting family event, that would be a great start," she said.

For more information, call 505-320-0615.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: