Arlen Asher 90

Arlen Asher ---- multi-woodwinds, his “tubes” as he calls them ---- Arlen was born and grew up a hundred miles north of Kansas City, remembers his earliest deep encounter with this music was a jazz radio show (1939) called Rhythm Rambles when he was ten and eleven, that ran 12 – 12:30 daily and he’d run home from school during lunchtime to catch it ---- 1951 he was into the Army and says he luckily wound up in the Army band for 3 years which kept him out of Korea ---- College after that, and broadcasting for an Iowa TV station (he interviewed Louis Armstrong!) and in 1958 he and Jo found themselves in Albuquerque where Arlen worked at KNME-TV & KOB-TV & KHFM radio ---- Working in TV turned out to be a snake pit so he opened his own studio in 1965 to teach woodwind fundamentals & jazz improvisation --- (in 1960 Arlen’s quartet opened for the Duke Ellington Orchestra @ the Civic Auditorium)------------------photo by Mark Weber ---- May 9, 2o19

Arlen Asher —- multi-woodwinds, his “tubes” as he calls them —- Arlen was born and grew up a hundred miles north of Kansas City, remembers his earliest deep encounter with this music was a jazz radio show (1939) called Rhythm Rambles when he was ten and eleven, that ran 12 – 12:30 daily and he’d run home from school during lunchtime to catch it —- 1951 he was into the Army and says he luckily wound up in the Army band for 3 years which kept him out of Korea —- College after that, and broadcasting for an Iowa TV station (he interviewed Louis Armstrong!) and in 1958 he and Jo found themselves in Albuquerque where Arlen worked at KNME-TV & KOB-TV & KHFM radio —- Working in TV turned out to be a snake pit so he opened his own studio in 1965 to teach woodwind fundamentals & jazz improvisation — (in 1960 Arlen’s quartet opened for the Duke Ellington Orchestra @ the Civic Auditorium)——————photo by Mark Weber —- May 9, 2o19

ARLEN

When you play with so
many people you have to
have trust
That things will be okay
and, barring that
You have to be able to
play in yr own head
You have to hear the song
faraway, and play toward it
As if
the chords had strings on them
pulling you,
You can arpeggiate the notes, but
It’s as if
the saxophone is doing this on its own
All that you know
is that faraway melody
you heard long ago way back
in the woods and you don’t know
who was playing it
This was before you even knew
what a saxophone was
or even cared, then somehow
you had a clarinet in yr hands
and somebody showed you how to
set the reed, shadows & mist people, one
of them singing softly that same melody
from deep in the woods, a song
that has no name, naming it
would make it disappear,
evanescent,
and for
all these years that’s the melody
you’ve been hearing in yr head, the
one yr fingers
hope to play someday

Arlen speaking with his old friend drummer Nick Luchetti --- Everybody in Albuquerque comes from some place else ---- the United States spent the 20th century in migration ---- Even the Navajo arrived in New Mexico in the 1400s ---- Only the pueblo peoples are indigenous, having migrated here 13,000 years ago ----- The population of Albuquerque is now 558,545 (metropolitan: 915,927)---- When Janet & I moved here 28 years ago the city was about 390,000 ---- When Lester Young lived here 1929-1930 it was 26,500 ---- Nick Luchetti grew up in Pennsylvania (born circa 1930) at age 20 joined the Air Force, would up at Walker AFB Roswell, New Mexico ---- After mustering out he was off to University of New Mexico, then to Santa Monica City College, and on to UCLA, graduating in 1960 whereupon he returned to Albuquerque and has been here ever since as a drum teacher, performer, and opened the renowned Luchetti Music Store in 1965 (closed Sept 2001) ---- photo by Mark Weber – May 9, 2o19

Arlen speaking with his old friend drummer Nick Luchetti — Everybody in Albuquerque comes from some place else —- the United States spent the 20th century in migration —- Even the Navajo arrived in New Mexico in the 1400s —- Only the pueblo peoples are indigenous, having migrated here 13,000 years ago —– The population of Albuquerque is now 558,545 (metropolitan: 915,927)—- When Janet & I moved here 28 years ago the city was about 390,000 —- When Lester Young lived here 1929-1930 it was 26,500 —- Nick Luchetti grew up in Pennsylvania (born circa 1930) at age 20 joined the Air Force, wound up at Walker AFB Roswell, New Mexico —- After mustering out he was off to University of New Mexico, then to Santa Monica City College, and on to UCLA, graduating in 1960 whereupon he returned to Albuquerque and has been here ever since as a drum teacher, performer, and opened the renowned Luchetti Music Store in 1965 (closed Sept 2001) —- photo by Mark Weber – May 9, 2o19

Micky Patten gives singer Carla Van Blake Terwilliger a hug while Lewis Winn chaperones ---- Outpost patio – May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- Carla sang “Alfie” she and her guitar playing husband Steve immigrated to Albuquerque 2017

Micky Patten gives singer Carla Van Blake Terwilliger a hug while Lewis Winn chaperones —- Outpost patio – May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber —- Carla sang “Alfie” she and her guitar playing husband Steve immigrated to Albuquerque 2017

A drummer and a trumpet player: John Bartlit & Paul Gonzales ---- photo by Mark Weber

A drummer and a trumpet player: John Bartlit & Paul Gonzales —- photo by Mark Weber

Pianist Sid Fendley ---- Inpost Art Gallery ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by MW

Pianist Sid Fendley —- Inpost Art Gallery —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by MW

Arlen Asher & Ben Finberg ---------- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by MW

Arlen Asher & Ben Finberg ———- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by MW

Two guitarists: Michael Anthony & Bill Biesecker look right into the camera while Cal Haines(standing) Bobby Shew and Janet Simon run the voodoo down ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Two guitarists: Michael Anthony & Bill Biesecker look right into the camera while Cal Haines (standing) Bobby Shew and Janet Simon run the voodoo down —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber

Bobby Shew, Cal Haines, Janet Simon stage left ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by MW

Bobby Shew, Cal Haines, Janet Simon stage left —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by MW

Mark Weber opening poem for the party w/ Arlen(clarinet), and Andy Zadrozny(bass) ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Roch Doran

Mark Weber opening poem for the party w/ Arlen (clarinet), and Andy Zadrozny (bass) —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Roch Doran

“I Found a New Baby” followed directly two beats after last breath of the poem, and they hit it hard: Jim Ahrend(piano), Arlen Asher(clarinet), Lewis Winn(guitar), Andy Zadrozny(bass), Kent Erickson(trumpet), Ben Finberg(trombone), John Trentacosta(drums), Paul Gonzales(trumpet) ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber

“I Found a New Baby” followed directly two beats after last breath of the poem, and they hit it hard: Jim Ahrend (piano), Arlen Asher (clarinet), Lewis Winn (guitar), Andy Zadrozny (bass), Kent Erickson (trumpet), Ben Finberg (trombone), John Trentacosta (drums), Paul Gonzales (trumpet) —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber

Kent Erickson leading the charge on “I Found a New Baby” ---- May 9, 2o19 Outpost Performance Space --- photo by Roch Doran ---- Arlen told the audience that he wanted to start with a Dixieland number as that’s where he started in this life of jazz, playing the little joints around northern Missouri when he was 13 and 14

Kent Erickson leading the charge on “I Found a New Baby” —- May 9, 2o19 Outpost Performance Space — photo by Roch Doran —- Arlen told the audience that he wanted to start with a Dixieland number as that’s where he started in this life of jazz, playing the little joints around northern Missouri when he was 13 and 14.

John Rangel & Arlen “Pink Panther” ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Roch Doran

John Rangel & Arlen “Pink Panther” —-  May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Roch Doran

Judy Christopher “Night and Day” ---- photo by MW ---- This night at the Outpost Performance Space was a jam session party for Arlen Asher’s 90th birthday (b. 7 May 1929, Missouri) ---- total of about 35 musicians performed with Arlen, with many others in the packed house

Judy Christopher “Night and Day” —- photo by MW —- This night at the Outpost Performance Space was a jam session party for Arlen Asher’s 90th birthday (b. 7 May 1929, Missouri) —- total of about 35 musicians performed with Arlen, with many others in the packed house.

Arlen Asher & Paul Gonzales ------- photo by MW ---- Arlen told the story how he first met Paul in the 1st grade when Arlen’s wife Jo brought Arlen into her schoolroom classroom (Montgomery Elementary @ Louisiana & Comanche, recently tore down) to demonstrate all his instruments and Paul was able to blow on the baritone saxophone, with Arlen’s help with the fingering

Arlen Asher & Paul Gonzales ——- photo by MW —- Arlen told the story how he first met Paul in the 1st grade when Arlen’s wife Jo brought Arlen into her schoolroom classroom (Montgomery Elementary @ Louisiana & Comanche, recently tore down) to demonstrate all his instruments and Paul was able to blow on the baritone saxophone, with Arlen’s help with the fingering.

Christine Fawson (flugelhorn) “I Got the World on a String” immigrated to Albuquerque in 2o17 ---- photo by MW

Christine Fawson (flugelhorn) “I Got the World on a String” immigrated to Albuquerque in 2o17 —- photo by MW

Two trumpet players: Christine Fawson & Paul Gonzales ---- photo by MW

Two trumpet players: Christine Fawson & Paul Gonzales —- photo by MW

Still learning this new camera: A trumpeter & two drummers: Kent Erickson, John Trentacosta, Jefferson Voorhees stage left ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Still learning this new camera: A trumpeter & two drummers: Kent Erickson, John Trentacosta, Jefferson Voorhees stage left —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber

Set 2: Tom Guralnick(emcee & birthday cake), Micky Patten(bass), Pete Amahl(drums) ---------- photo by MW

Set 2: Tom Guralnick (emcee & birthday cake), Micky Patten (bass), Pete Amahl (drums) ———- photo by MW

Set 2: Chris Ishee(elec-piano), John Rangel(Steinway), Micky Patten(bass), Pete Amahl(drums) ---- May 9, 2o19 – photo by Mark Weber

Set 2: Chris Ishee (elec-piano), John Rangel (Steinway), Micky Patten (bass), Pete Amahl (drums) —- May 9, 2o19 – photo by Mark Weber

Michael Herndon took “My Funny Valentine” to the moon, and after he plumbed every possible meaning from the words he started speaking in tongues, he was gone ---- May 9, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Michael Herndon took “My Funny Valentine” to the moon, and after he plumbed every possible meaning from the words he started speaking in tongues, he was gone —- May 9, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber

I wish we had a recording of Arlen playing “Scrapple from the Apple” while Patti Littlefield sings “Honeysuckle Rose” ---- They’ve been doing it around town for half dozen years now so it’s ready to be boxed and gift wrapped ---- One wonders what Bird’s thought processes were (as if we’d understand) when he cooked up Scrapple out of boiling down Honeysuckle ---- Sid Fendley and Steve Figueroa traded places at the pianos, with Dimi DiSanti(guitar), Milo(bass), Mark Clark(drums) ---- photo by Mark Weber

I wish we had a recording of Arlen playing “Scrapple from the Apple” while Patti Littlefield sings “Honeysuckle Rose” —- They’ve been doing it around town for half dozen years now so it’s ready to be boxed and gift wrapped —- One wonders what Bird’s thought processes were (as if we’d understand) when he cooked up Scrapple out of boiling down Honeysuckle —- Sid Fendley and Steve Figueroa traded places at the pianos, with Dimi DiSanti (guitar), Milo (bass), Mark Clark (drums) —- photo by Mark Weber

Set 2, band 2: Micky Patten and Andy Poling sorting things out while stage manager & organizer Patti Littlefield keeps check ---- photo by MW

Set 2, band 2: Micky Patten and Andy Poling sorting things out while stage manager & organizer Patti Littlefield keeps check —- photo by MW

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” Barbara Bentree(song) and her husband John Rangel(piano) ---- Barbara pointed out that Arlen’s environmental stance goes way back and that he’s been living off the grid for years in the outback ---- photo by MW ---- (another thing you probably didn’t know about Arlen is that he was a pilot)

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” Barbara Bentree (song) and her husband John Rangel (piano) —- Barbara pointed out that Arlen’s environmental stance goes way back and that he’s been living off the grid for years in the outback —- photo by MW —- (another thing you probably didn’t know about Arlen is that he was a pilot)

Set 3, band 2: “A Sleeping Bee” Allison Davis (she reminded me later that Truman Capote wrote the lyrics) ---- Arlen’s love of this music is fierce and expressed in his lifelong devotion to it (I mean “fierce” in the old Anglo-Saxon sense ----- I don’t mean he’s aggressive, which would never suit Arlen) ---- Pat Rhoades piano solo on the following tune “What is this Thing called Love” was a high point for me, he was into it before I realized it was a solo, uncanny how his impressionistic chords floated above the bar lines, and short single lines in the right hand were there to push the chords even further out, while Cal Haines kept the time crisp and crackling, and there’s Rick Fairbanks on bass, who was the main bass player around town when we got here in 1991, and Michael Anthony on guitar (who migrated here from LA in 1980) ---- May 9, 2o19 photo by MW

Set 3, band 2:  “A Sleeping Bee” Allison Davis (she reminded me later that Truman Capote wrote the lyrics) —- Arlen’s love of this music is fierce and expressed in his lifelong devotion to it (I mean “fierce” in the old Anglo-Saxon sense —– I don’t mean he’s aggressive, which would never suit Arlen) —- Pat Rhoades piano solo on the following tune “What is this Thing called Love” was a high point for me, he was into it before I realized it was a solo, uncanny how his impressionistic chords floated above the bar lines, and short single lines in the right hand were there to push the chords even further out, while Cal Haines kept the time crisp and crackling, and there’s Rick Fairbanks on bass, who was the main bass player around town when we got here in 1991, and Michael Anthony on guitar (who migrated here from LA in 1980) —- May 9, 2o19 photo by MW

Set 4, band 1: the firecracker Wendy Beach singing “Yardbird Suite” in a set that had three (3!) Bird tunes (I think Wendy came from Montana in the mid-80s), Steve Figueroa(elec-piano), Arlen(alto), Sid Fendley(Steinway), Milo Jaramilo(bass)(from Isleta Pueblo, which means his bloodlines go way back in this New Mexico), John Bartlit(drums) ------------------photo by MW ---- (Steve Figueroa’s mother Mary is Laguna Pueblo and a jazz historian in her own right)

Set 4, band 1: the firecracker Wendy Beach singing “Yardbird Suite” in a set that had three (3!) Bird tunes (I think Wendy came from Montana in the mid-80s), Steve Figueroa (elec-piano), Arlen (alto), Sid Fendley (Steinway), Milo Jaramilo (bass) (from Isleta Pueblo, which means his bloodlines go way back in this New Mexico), John Bartlit (drums) ——————photo by MW —- (Steve Figueroa’s mother Mary is Laguna Pueblo and a jazz historian in her own right)

“Caravan” with Bobby Shew(trumpet) and Arlen Asher(soprano) out front w/ Steve, Sid, Dimi, Milo, and John Barlit(drumset) and Mark Clark(congas) ---- Arlen told the story how he first met a teenage Bobby Shew at the Sunset Inn out on west Central when he first got to town in 1958 when Shew sat in with his quartet one night ---- Bobby says how he remembers that Arlen was so surprised that I could even play ---- (Bobby joined the Air Force in 1960 ---- He and Lisa returned to Albuquerque August 6, 2006) ---- photo by MW ------ After this tune they ended the evening with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which was pure poetry

“Caravan” with Bobby Shew (trumpet) and Arlen Asher (soprano) out front w/ Steve, Sid, Dimi, Milo, and John Barlit (drumset) and Mark Clark (congas) —- Arlen told the story how he first met a teenage Bobby Shew at the Sunset Inn out on west Central when he first got to town in 1958 when Shew sat in with his quartet one night —- Bobby says how he remembers that Arlen was so surprised that I could even play —- (Bobby joined the Air Force in 1960 —- He and Lisa returned to Albuquerque August 6, 2006) —- photo by MW —— After this tune they ended the evening with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which was pure poetry.

Arlen & Shew ----- photo by Roch Doran

Arlen & Shew —– photo by Roch Doran



10 Comments

  1. Mark Weber

    Besides the primal echoes/racial memories regarding mystical elusive songs emanating from the primeval forest found in folk tales, fairy tales, old legends, and mythology —– That poem reminds me of something Miles once said, that on a dirt road outside of East St Louis he heard off in the distance a country church singing and that there was something in that sound that was always after —-

    As I said before I spoke it: I didn’t write this poem, it wrote itself.

    On the telephone with Arlen the day before I told him that I hoped nobody thought the last line in the poem was inferring that you were still trying to figure out how to play the saxophone, he said, “But, I am still trying to figure how to play the saxophone,” and I said, “It really is a mystery, after all,” and he said, “It really is” —- Because, at the level Arlen plays one doesn’t know how or where it comes from.

  2. Mark Weber

    On the KUNM.org ALL THAT JAZZ Thursday edition May 23 (2o19)
    trumpet & guitar duets
    with
    Paul Gonzales & Michael Anthony
    LIVE in-studio

  3. Mark Weber

    With a little research on the Internet I was able to locate the radio show Rhythm Rambles —- WSUI Iowa City, Iowa, hosted by Del Donahoo ————- I had lunch today with Arlen (@ Garcia’s on Indian School — seems to be our hang) and he didn’t recall the host’s name but he did remember that the show’s theme was “Stardust” —- Rhythm Rambles began in 1936 and went for decades ——————Arlen went on to Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa, (now Iowa State University) for 4 years had his own radio show 1956-1957 called “Today’s Music” on WOI 5-6pm five days a week, while he majored in broadcasting —————-

    Arlen wanted me to post his thanks to the sound man Chad Sheer for his work on May 9 concert, and he wishes he had urged more strongly for Nick Luchetti to join them in the jam (Nick was in Arlen’s bands in the 60s)

  4. Bob Gusch

    Great job, Mark. Thank you.

  5. Mark Weber

    Arlen passed away last night (October 2, 2020) in hospital —– if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 Safety Lockdown since April he would have played right up to the last

  6. Tom Guralnick

    So glad you documented that night so beautifully, Mark. The 1st week in May was always held for Arlen. This year he was going to share the bill with another nonagenarian, the great NYC/Hawaii/Santa Fe/Armenian saxophonist clarinetist, Souren Baronian. Oh what a night that would have been. Then CoVid hit. We all loved Arlen. And he loved us… and had no problem saying so. “Darlin Arlen” as Patti Littlefield so aptly dubbed him.So special. RIP

  7. Tom Guralnick

    And another thing about that night– Arlen’s 90th. I always told Arlen in his later years…” Arlen make it easy…just bring your alto and play a few tunes…” Cuz he was always saying, “I don’t know if I can do it this year Tom” Cuz he was having a hard time those last couple of years– a lot of pain etc etc,… To say nothing of his constant self-effacing humility– a life long affliction : )….. So I tried to make it easy. Couldn’t do that with Arlen…no matter what he said. He had to bring allllll…. his instruments (which was easier when he had his wonderful wife Jo, and his beautiful son, Terry, around to help him. But sadly they passed). But then Arlen did it himself. Anyway…I digress. That night, Patti Littlefield took on the (impossible) task of trying to organize the night and rein Arlen in to make it a bit easier…. Well she did a beautiful job but it was a lost cause. Every day, Arlen invited another 5 old friends to play with and a 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th set was organized. I was genuinely worried that that night would kill him. That his 90th birthday party would be his last night on earth (not such a bad way to go actually) But anyway, it was an incredible night and Arlen got STRONGER & STRONGER as the night went on. And he was right after all. That was the way it should have been Arlen, I admit it. You were right! Oh what a night!! Music was Arten’s healing force. He showed us time and time again!

  8. Sophi Peron

    So sorry we were not invited to Arlen’s 90th celebration. Nothing in this history mentions Arlen’s long time collaborator guitarist Bob Brown, or any players who played in the 80’s & 70’s besides
    Nick. Pianist Fred Burton, bassist Professor Harry Robinson, Johnny Gilbert, Freeman Lacey, Laney McDonald, Freddie Williams, Charlie Brown, Andy Kirk, Mildred Foster and many more . . .

    • Steve Marsh

      Hi Sophi, in my new post here – I mentioned Bob Brown several times. You mentioned some names from my past. It was so long ago, but I played some gigs with both Laney and with Johnny Gilbert. Very nice guys, and good memories!

  9. Steve Marsh

    I am one of the many, many former students of Arlen Asher. All of Arlen’s students greatly benefitted from Arlen’s patient teachings, his incredible musicality, his wisdom, and from his warm, caring presence. And Arlen could really, really play great on all of those horns too!

    I studied with Arlen in the late 1970s. After leaving New Mexico in 1979, I eventually settled in Los Angeles where I’ve had a moderately successful career in music. As a saxophonist and woodwinds player, I toured and recorded with Lyle Lovett for 25 years, played on some TV shows and movies in Los Angeles, performed on live shows with Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Sammy Davis Jr., and Clare Fischer, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and so forth. For whatever limited success that I’ve managed to have in the musical world, I owe a huge gratitude to Mr. Arlen Asher, and the for the inspiring lessons that I had with him so many years ago.

    I grew up in Los Alamos in the 1970s, where my father worked as a chemist at the Lab. While Los Alamos was wonderful for its access to outdoor sports, the “isolation by design” of Los Alamos made it a VERY difficult place to learn jazz saxophone in those long ago days before You-Tube, iTunes, and Spotify ever existed.
    My high school band director Jan McDonald was really phenomenal and helpful, and he led an excellent school band program at the school. But nobody was teaching jazz saxophone up in Los Alamos at that time. Fortunately, I got to meet Arlen Asher in 1977 at a stage band festival in Albuquerque, and then I began taking occasional lessons with him. To go take a lesson from Arlen required a four-hour round trip from Los Alamos to Albuquerque, so I couldn’t see him as often as I would have liked. Sometimes I would stay the night in Albuquerque at the great drummer Jesse Sawyer’s house, whom I was also becoming friends with at that time. It was all a great adventure for a high school kid!

    Arlen quickly hipped me to ALL of the various scales that needed to be learned in order to be able to improvise over jazz tunes. He turned me on to my first Jamey Aebersold play-along records, the ii-V-I progressions, and we studied the flute as well. I was serious about learning, so I practiced hard at whatever Arlen suggested that I work on. Most of our lesson time consisted of improvising together over the Aebersold rhythm section tracks. Arlen always left all of his axes set up on the stands at his home studio, and he would say, “you don’t mind if I switch around the horns, do you?” It was so impressive and so inspiring to watch Arlen improvise expertly on everything from alto flute to bass clarinet! The dozen or so magical lessons that I took from Arlen during those years really helped me to become a better improviser.

    Around 1978, Arlen organized some of his sax students into a group and gave us some of Med Flory’s SuperSax arrangements. We got together to rehearse in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and eventually we played a concert of the SuperSax pieces that we had managed to pull together.

    During those same years of the 1970s, when it was so difficult to find any jazz music albums in Los Alamos, the weekly jazz radio show that Arlen and the brilliant guitarist Bob Brown co-hosted, was another vital avenue for music fans and music students to learn about important jazz recordings. I would often record their radio show onto cassette tapes, so that I could review the tunes over and over at a later time.

    While in high school, I got ahold of a copy of a cassette tape of Jesse Sawyer, Arlen, and uber-guitarist Bob Brown performing with Clark Terry at a concert. That tape was worth its weight in gold to me, and I played that cassette hundreds of times. All of those fine NM musicians performed at their highest level on that concert, and they proved that they were fully capable of hanging with a musical master like Clark. I definitely stole some of Arlen’s licks off of that tape!

    For my last big band concert of my senior year at Los Alamos High School, Arlen was our special guest. I was thrilled to play some solos and trades with Arlen during that concert. He set up his nine instruments on the stage, and then Arlen proceeded to really give that audience a big thrill with his amazing musicianship.

    Sometimes if I happened to be down in Albuquerque on a Friday with friends or family, we would go see Jesse Sawyer’s “Jazz Prophets” combo at Ned’s. Arlen and Bob Brown were in Jesse’s band then. Jesse would let me sit in at Ned’s, starting when I was 17. Those guys were all really nice and encouraging to a young fellow who was trying to figure out the music. By the time I was 19, Arlen had left that band to do other things, and Jesse hired me to take his place for the summer. A great experience!!

    In 1979, I moved to Phoenix, and then on to Los Angeles in 1988. After my parents moved out of state in 2005, I have rarely been back to NM. I tried to look up Arlen when I did manage to return. The last time I saw Arlen was around 2008, when we both recorded on Jan McDonald’s CD. As always, Arlen was friendly, funny, and gracious. He even interviewed me for his radio show at that time.
    It was also quite impressive to see Arlen still lugging around a boatload of horns and a PA system for his flutes when he was about 80 years old. That kind of durability and dedication to the music is something that we can all aspire to!!

    As everybody knows, Arlen was an extremely kind and caring person. He was really one of the nicest persons I’ve ever known. A true saint of a man. Concerning his own musical abilities, Arlen was overly humble to a fault. In reality, Arlen had the musical skills that could have made him a very successful woodwind doubler in the Hollywood recording studios. But Arlen preferred to stay in the Land of Enchantment, where he could passionately continue to enlighten young students to the joys of playing music.

    I’ll be eternally indebted to Mr. Asher for his teaching and his friendship. His passing leaves a large irreplaceable void within our hearts and souls.

    – Steve Marsh

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