We’re in for a rare treat this weekend at Vernon’s Jazz Club. Wendy Beach, who is just as delightful as her name suggests, performs Friday and Saturday nights at our little speakeasy, in our series, Jazz Has the Blues.

On Friday, June 25, Ms. Beach presents a tribute to the incomparable Carmen McRae.

On Saturday evening, Wendy pays tribute to McRae’s idol, Billie Holiday. We briefly caught up with Wendy to chat about giggin’ livin’ and music. Here’s the interview!

VJC: That’s some voice ya got! Tell us about your style, and your influences . . .

WB: Thanks for the compliment, and ooh, yeah, that’s a good questions…the style and influences…
I suppose growing up in Detroit, I listened to all the Motown stuff, including Aretha, of course.  I also got turned onto American, Irish and other folk music while playing with high school friends.  In those jams I played guitar, mandolin and even penny-whistle.  Lots of fun there.  Since I was young, my mom loved listening to gospel, and she and my dad used to sing and harmonize when we’d be driving in the car, which I always thought was really cool.  I think that helped me develop an ear for hearing more than just the melody.

Then, because I’ve been around lots of jazz players, I always listened to lots of jazz, then began singing it too.  I developed an appreciation of more involved harmony, which now translates to any kind of music I sing.  Although, you still have to pay close attention to what’s called for on the gig you’re doing.  For example, the approach I used to sing in a bluegrass band I was in many years ago would not go over in a jazz band, and vice versa.

VJC: You’re playing two dates at Vernon’s– what can we expect to hear?

WB: I’m singing tunes from both Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday, since Friday and Saturday are both tribute nights.  Carmen met and listened a lot to Billie (I don’t know whether they became good friends), so she had always done lot of Billie’s music.  She also apparently would include one of Billie’s songs in each performance, I imagine as sort of showing respect for her influence on Carmen’s approach to jazz.  So, I’m doing stuff that both of them did, and each of them did independently.  Of course, “God Bless the Child,” “Lover Man,” “Too Close for Comfort.”  Things like that.

VJC: You’re doing tributes to Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday. How have these two women influenced your music?

WB: I probably listened to Billie Holiday a lot early on.  Just like all singers, we all appreciate the good ballad, and Billie has, of course, done lots of those…  I remember finding a book about Billie’s singing in the library (probably originally began as someone’s dissertation) about Billie’s unique phrasing and approach to singing a line.  They broke her lines down into very sophisticated notation.  But it’s really coming from emotions.  You know she wasn’t thinking about all that stuff when she sang.  I’ve always appreciated that of her.

On the other hand, Carmen has that more sophisticated musicality, which ended up developing into a pretty greasy, gritty approach to many tunes.  How can you not love that “tell-it-like-it-is” thing that she does?

VJC: We’re just curious– what’s it like being a woman vocalist in a male-dominated business?

WB: It’s funny, because typically vocalists, whether male or female, receive similar treatment and, shall I say, suspicion, regarding their position in, or contributions to, the band.  It’s often not a respectful relationship.  Lots of things contribute to this–one of which is definitely the “woman” thang.  But, also, for example, many singers have not necessarily studied music or taken lessons, particularly until they start getting serious, so they don’t know how to discuss things about music like a musician.  Whether male or female though, serious musicians start getting a little, shall I say, picky about who they want to play with.  Like, “I work hard at what I do, and I want to play with other serious people who work equally hard to get better.”

There’s maybe also a little jealousy involved, however misplaced.  Nowadays especially, the vocalist is the “star,” and the instrumentalists or accompanists are not appreciated as much, whether they’re completely smokin’ or not.  People can directly relate to a singer, whether through the lyric or through the emotion portrayed.  To get recognized, instrumentalists require more attention by a typically musically-uneducated audience–often in situations where there are lots of distractions,  like ordering food and drinks, talking to friends, etc.  Unless the musician is loud, they can be more easily ignored.

I have probably received more respect, based on the fact that I play the bass.  As a vocalist, I’ve often had other band members say, “Oh yeah, I forgot. you know what’s going on, you’re a real musician.”  I’ve also had to remind band members that, although a vocalist may not use the correct terminology, it doesn’t mean she or he isn’t aware of what they’re doing, or what they’re wanting to hear from a band.  It does make it more difficult, though, when you’re working with people who can’t convey their ideas in the typical jargon.

VJC: You could play anywhere you’d like– what is it about Vernon’s that attracts you?

WB: Vernon’s Jazz Club is the real deal.  It’s specifically set up to be a music performance venue, offering great food and drinks.  “Definitely not… as Tommy Gearhart says, “…a place where the music is considered wallpaper.”  I’ve heard some really great music at Vernon’s.  Everyone should know that New Mexico has a reputation for having seriously good musicians living and playing here.  People coming from other states often express how they’re surprised and impressed when they hear what’s going on here musically.  Vernon’s is very cool for recognizing that, and offering a place to make it happen.

VJC: Finally, who’s in the band?

WB: The band on both nights is a really great group of musicians:
Brian Bennett – piano (plays with Straight Up in Santa Fe)
Colin Deuble – bass (Friday)
Michael Glynn – bass (Saturday)
Andy Poling – drums

We’re about to have lots of fun these nights.  I encourage everyone to come down!

VJC: Thanks, Wendy! We can’t wait!

WB: Thanks for having me.

WENDY BEACH pays tribute to Carmen McRae & Billie Holiday ((THIS FRIDAY/SATURDAY)) 8pm to Midnight!
$10 Seating Charge.
Make your reservations NOW! 341-0831
Vernon’s Jazz Club: 6855 4th Street Northwest
(north of Osuna on the west side of the street, behind Calico Cafe)

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Hey Jazz Friends!

You’re not going to want to miss a thing at Vernon’s this week. We’re gearin’ up for an exciting run of great artists in their element! Get down to Vernon’s Wednesday night for the Doug Lawrence session. Bring your ax– you might just get in a cutting session! Get ready.

On Friday night, check out the Trumpet Summit, featuring Justin Ray and Brad Dubbs.
Justin Ray, born and raised in Albuquerque, breezes through town for this gig, wedged between international tours with the likes of young lion Michael Bublé. Brad Dubbs is another local hero, often seen with the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra and Calle 66. The Trumpet Summit line-up is Justin Ray on trumpet, Brad Dubbs on trumpet, Colin Deuble on bass and Diego Arencon on drums. (Rumor has it Bobby Shew will make an appearance too!)

On Saturday, Vernon’s proudly presents the Pete Amahl Trio featuring special guest Greg Abate, June 19th (Juneteenth) 8:30-Midnight! Globe-trotting GREG ABATE is a jazz saxophonist, flutist, composer and he’ll be at Vernon’s on  Saturday. Come on down.

Father’s Day is this Sunday, you’ll want to bring your dad, father, brother, or friend to Vernon’s for dinner and music with The Tommy Gearhart Quartet and his special guest, trumpeter Justin Ray. See you Vernon’s!

Vernon’s Jazz Club
6855 4th. St. NW Village of Los Ranchos, Albuquerque 505.341.0831


FRIDAY: TRUMPET SUMMIT Featuring Justin Ray & Brad Dubbs
Friday, June 18th 8:30-Midnight.
$10 Seating charge.

J Ray – trumpet
Brad Dubbs – trumpet
Colin Deuble – bass
Diego Arencon – drums

SATURDAY: Vernon’s Jazz Club proudly presents the Pete Amahl Trio featuring special guest Greg Abate!
June 19th (Juneteenth) 8:30-Midnight.
$10 Gets you in!

SUNDAY: The Tommy Gearhart Quartet w/special guest Justin Ray
Sunday June 20th
Two Sets: 5:00PM and 7:00pm
Location: Vernon’s Jazz Club 6855 4th St. NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
Tickets: $5 to sit at the bar.
Information: (505) 341-0831 http://www.vernonsjazzclub.com

Vernon’s Jazz Club is proud to present The Tommy Gearhart Quartet with Steve Figueroa on piano, Dan Spanogle on bass, and Chase Ellison on drums, special guest Justin Ray. For more information on Tommy visit: http://www.tommygearhart.com/.


Say, Jazz Folks!

SAVE THE DATE! Vernon’s Jazz Club is PROUD to present international trumpeter, Grammy winner and living legend, Bobby Shew! Now, you could see him in a huge venue, but the good stories, the nitty-gritty, the down and dirty happens in an intimate setting. You gotta come to Vernon’s to get the real Bobby Shew experience! Read up in Bobby, and then come down to Vernon’s on June 11-12! See you there. . .


International trumpeter Bobby Shew is winner of the Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year (1983 Heavy Company).An Albuquerque native, Bobby Shew switched from guitar to trumpet at the age of ten. By the time he was thirteen he was playing at local dances with a number of bands and by fifteen he’d formed a group of his own. Bobby Shew’s professional career truly began during his high school days, gigging six nights a week in a dinner club.

Bobby spent three years as the jazz trumpet soloist in the famed NORAD multi-service band. After his tenure with NORAD, Bobby joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Sam Donahue, where he had the opportunity to work with trumpet legend Charlie Shavers. Later, Bobby was asked to play with Woody Herman’s band upon Bill Chase’s recommendation. Throughout the seventies and eighties, Bobby also found a great deal of studio work for television, including on shows such as ‘Hawaii 5-O’, ‘Streets Of San Francisco’, ‘Bob Newhart’, ‘Mary Tyler Moore’, ‘Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert’, ‘Happy Days’, ‘Laverne And Shirley’, and ‘Eight Is Enough.’ His signature sound can be heard on such soundtracks includes ‘Grease I and II’, ‘Rocky I and II’, ‘The Muppet Movie’, and ‘Taxi’ among many others.

Today, Bobby maintains a busy performing and private teaching schedule, which includes devoting a considerable amount of time to the education of young artists, conducting clinics and master classes at high schools and college campuses all over the world. Active on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild, Bobby has also acted as National Trumpet Chairman for the International Association of Jazz Educator’s for 16 years. Bobby Shew never stops using his remarkable insight, sensitivity and creativity to inspire the next generation of jazz players and teachers.

Vernon’s Jazz Club proudly presents the Bobby Shew Quartet
June 11th & 12th 8:30-Midnight!

Vernon’s Jazz Club 6855 4thSt. Village of Los Ranchos,
Albuquerque NW (hidden behind Calico).
505-341-0831 ~
Artisan cocktails & Appetizers available at the bar.
Tell ‘em, “Joe Sent Me.”
$10 Seating charge.


Dear Jazz Friends,

We hope you’ll join us at Vernon’s Jazz Club on Friday, June 4th at 8:30 pm to celebrate the life and work of American Jazz pianist, composer band leader, and music legend Hank Jones, who passed away on May 16th.Tonight’s tribute is performed by musicians John Rangel on piano, Michael Glynn on bass and Cal Haines drums.

See you at Vernon’s.

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 8:30pm
Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 12:00am
Vernon’s Jazz Club
6855 4th. St. NW


Hey Jazz Friends!

Just a reminder– get down to Vernon’s tonight for the Doug Lawrence Session! Tonight, Matt Brewer, renown jazz bassist, will be sitting in with Doug in the first set! You wanna check this out!

See you Tonight at 7pm!!!

Be there.


Happy Sunday, folks! We hope you’ll come by at 5pm (and/or) 7:30 for the Tommy Gearhart Quartet with Tony Cesarano on guitar, Dan Spanogle on bass, and Chase Ellison on drums. See you there!!


Hello Friends,

Recently we received a request for a calendar of events on our blog. Sadly, our version of wordpress doesn’t support a calendar plug-in. So, we decided to take the calendar in our own hands.

VERNON’S JAZZ CLUB GOOGLE CALENDAR!

Just bookmark it, make it a favorite, and stay in the know!

See ya at Vernon’s!