ARLEN ASHER JAZZMAN

Arlen Asher got away from us October 2, 2020 ----- photo by MW

Arlen Asher got away from us October 2, 2020 —– photo by MW

And then one day they’re gone
That door open’d and they went through
Leaving this world, gone into the next
Funny thing this morning, but I can’t remember if Arlen drank coffee?
That thought grew out of how Arlen never drank alcohol, his father
was alcoholic and young Arlen saw things
I’d ask incredulous, “So, you’ve never tasted beer?”
Nothing, nada,
none of that road did he
take, and I don’t think he drank coffee, either, I certainly saw him early
many mornings for our drive up to Santa Fe to do his radio show
and coffee was not part of the ride, I don’t drink coffee, either, so I didn’t
really notice one way or the other

Arlen was a woodwinds master, if a comparison is useful, he was in the same territory as Bud Shank, Buddy Collette, and Gene Cipriano, he would have fit right in out on the Coast in the 1950s. As a kid clarinet player in the joints around his hometown in Missouri (c.1942) there must have been some work-around so that his underage prodigy could work in the lounges, his big influence those years was Benny Goodman —- Nor did Arlen use crude language, we would have fainted if Arlen cussed, it just wasn’t in him,

I think the most assertive I ever saw him was the two or 3 times I asked about his practice regime, having so my horns to keep together, and he would adamantly insist that he didn’t practice! Maybe that was in keeping with the jazz sense to keep it fresh and honest? Who knows, Arlen was a mystery (his wife Jo heard him deflect this question when he was a guest on my KUNM radio show and she later tipped me that he keeps all his horns out of case and on stands in his music room —- where the dog sometimes knocks them over! —- and she hears him in there working on things)

He really didn’t like talking about himself, and, as a historian, and a person who likes context, that was something I had to wait to arrive on its own time —- He was the real deal jazz musician and that interests me.

Sheila Jordan & Arlen ---- both celebrating 70 years in jazz ---- Arlen's birthday party was the week before and this night was Sheila with her Quartet at Outpost Performance Space ---- May 16, 2019 ---- photo by MW

Sheila Jordan & Arlen —- both celebrating 70 years in jazz —- Arlen’s birthday party was the week before and this night was Sheila with her Quartet at Outpost Performance Space —- May 16, 2019 —- photo by MW

Concert at St John's of Arlen Asher Quartet ---- Those kids asked if I'd take a photo of them with Arlen ---- the kid in the middle is singer Michael Herndon's boy and the kid in red is the grandson of author Todd Moore ---- Deejdrick Herndon and Jacob Moore, who are school chums ---- Jacob sat with us and I was impressed by how attentive he was to the music through two entire sets he was transfixed, which means he must be a musician, I think Barbara said he's already on the saxophone ---- March 4, 2018 photo by MW

Concert at St John’s of Arlen Asher Quartet —- Those kids asked if I’d take a photo of them with Arlen —- the kid in the middle is singer Michael Herndon’s boy and the kid in red is the grandson of author Todd Moore —- Deejdrick Herndon and Jacob Moore, who are school chums —- Jacob sat with us and I was impressed by how attentive he was to the music through two entire sets he was transfixed, which means he must be a musician, I think Barbara said he’s already on the saxophone —- March 4, 2018 photo by MW

A bass player & a saxophonist: David Parlato & Arlen Asher ---- September 4, 2005 Santa Fe ----photo by Mark Weber

A bass player & a saxophonist: David Parlato & Arlen Asher —- September 4, 2005 Santa Fe —-photo by Mark Weber

Arlen with TG ------------- Tom is amazing, can you imagine being a concert presenter for lo, 30-some years, and having to listen to everyone's gawd damn opinions about music they like (and who they think he should be bringing)? Drive me bonkers ---- He seems okay with it ------ photo October 21, 2018 by MW

Arlen with TG ————- Tom is amazing, can you imagine being a concert presenter for lo, 30-some years, and having to listen to everyone’s gawd damn opinions about music they like (and who they think he should be bringing)? Drive me bonkers —- He seems okay with it —— photo October 21, 2018 by MW

Cal Haines and Arlen Asher at Tomasita's Northern New Mexican Cuisine on the Railyard, Santa Fe ----- March 19, 2o18 ---- photo by MW ---- Frequent collaborators going back to the 80s, and we collaborated on lunch about a dozen times, too, always after the Monday radio show

Cal Haines and Arlen Asher at Tomasita’s Northern New Mexican Cuisine on the Railyard, Santa Fe —– March 19, 2o18 —- photo by MW —- Frequent collaborators going back to the 80s, and we collaborated on lunch about a dozen times, too, always after the Monday radio show

Arlen at the wheel with saxophonist Dave Anderson in parking lot to Santa Fe Community College after KSFR radio show ---- October 8, 2018 ---- photo by MW

Arlen at the wheel with saxophonist Dave Anderson in parking lot to Santa Fe Community College after KSFR radio show —- October 8, 2018 —- photo by MW

Patti Littlefield and Arlen ----November 8, 2017 ---- They had a long-standing collaboration in song & ensemble ---- photo by MW

Patti Littlefield and Arlen —-November 8, 2017 —- They had a long-standing collaboration in song & ensemble —- photo by MW

The drummer Bryan Lewis at his trailer where he has lived for years in Santa Fe ---- Arlen and I stopped by to visit ---- Mary 14, 2018 photo by MW ---- Arlen was in Lewis's band The Three Faces of Jazz for years performing a regular gig at El Meson

The drummer Bryan Lewis at his trailer where he has lived for years in Santa Fe —- Arlen and I stopped by to visit —- Mary 14, 2018 photo by MW —- Arlen was in Lewis’s band The Three Faces of Jazz for years performing a regular gig at El Meson

LUNCH WITH ARLEN

Arlen on a cane today
Says he bumped a file cabinet
Lost his balance, dizzy, fell backwards
Hurt his back —-

We’re at Mannie’s on Central & Girard
I had my usual cheeseburger
Arlen had a fish sandwich
Ice tea
French fries
We both wonder why they’re called “French”?
I told him there used to be a dance hall on this corner
Big bands on the road would play here in the 40s
maybe the 30s? Way before our time
We both had potato salad
and after that: Pie!
Apple pie a la mode for me, Arlen banana cream

Arlen at lunch at our beloved Mannie's on Central at Girard (Albuquerque) we had lunch there often, sadly, after all those years they closed their doors just around the time the Pandemic Safety Mandates went into effect (not because of Lockdown, but other reasons) ----- The thing that intrigues me about this shot is that I'm returning from a pit stop, but why did I take my camera with me to the bathroom? I guess I had planned to shoot a wide-angle of the room ---- August 21, 2019

Arlen at lunch at our beloved Mannie’s on Central at Girard (Albuquerque) we had lunch there often, sadly, after all those years they closed their doors just around the time the Pandemic Safety Mandates went into effect (not because of Lockdown, but other reasons) —– The thing that intrigues me about this shot is that I’m returning from a pit stop, but why did I take my camera with me to the bathroom? I guess I had planned to shoot a wide-angle of the room —- August 21, 2019

Funny, he calls his quintet that opened for Duke Ellington
“the warm-up band” (1960)
I asked who was in the quintet, he says he can’t
remember, “Too far back”
Said he was nervous to play his baritone with Harry Carney watching

I told him how much I loved his alto solo the other night, blowin
on “If You Could See Me Now” (he was with Patti’s quartet)
He said he had misplaced the music
and had to wing it, I said, Oh I just thought
you’d thrown caution the wind, you were out there

Occasionally, we’d talk about his wife Jo
(who’d passed in 2010) but not always
He kept his sorrow private, but you felt it
He once told me that she was responsible for the person
he was, that her kindness and humanity was something he missed

A doctor told him
that he might be experiencing “age-related depression”
having out-lived so many friends
and a world gone by

He always liked to hear me expound on the latest anthropology book I was into, he loved hearing about Neanderthals and early Homo Sapiens and Mesopotamia and the poet-priestess Enheduanna of Sumer, and her father Sargon —- Even had me order Jean Manco’s ANCESTRAL JOURNEYS and I convinced him a good foundational book is the immortal HISTORY BEGINS AT SUMER by Samuel Noah Kramer (even tho pub’d 1956 and “out-dated” it’s still one of my favorites)

“I don’t know about this old-age stuff,” sorting out his pills, then
says ruefully, “Actually, I do know”
Sometimes, Arlen also has a cheeseburger, “Hold the onions”
(“You can put his onions on mine!” I add)
but never finishes it, has it wrapped
for later

I ask how it was growing up in Missouri as a single child?
“I really don’t know what to say about my parents, I really don’t”
Says he & Jo’s first years here in Albuquerque were fairly tight
I had a gig two nights a week that paid $10 and
we lived on that, I don’t know how, but you make do”
and they had two kids to raise then

“Pretty soon it’s going to be ALL Senior Moments
and we’ll say, Hey! I just had a Normal Moment!”

My main point of connection with Arlen was our mutual love of 1950s jazz and that particular sense of modernism that it was. One of my last conversations with him, I told him I was waiting for our next listening session to dig into the new Paul Desmond box set from Mosaic. We’d have lunch and then kill a couple hours listening to records, or planning our next radio show (I was guest on his Monday morning KSFR show a couple dozen times). We did one extensive one on Woody Herman, another on Lennie Tristano and his circle, another on Lester Young, yet another on Swedish jazz of the 50s, and two shows on Duke Ellington. Our fall-back was always West Coast Cool (& burning), Shorty Rogers, Pepper, Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars, Bud Shank, Chris Connor, Hampton Hawes, Shelly Manne, Harold Land, Chico Hamilton Quintet, Lorraine (& Herb) Geller, Gerry, Jack Sheldon, Wardell Gray, Coop, Brubeck, Paul Horn, Buddy Collette, Lennie Niehaus, Jack Montrose, easy to fill up a 3-hour radio show with so much great music —-

Interestingly, he’d attend fairly modernist classical (“20th century music”) concerts but never its counterpart in jazz, about as far out as he’d go was Chris Potter’s techno-electro-plugged-in Trio, we caught that at the Outpost and he bought the CD and it found regular spins on his show, “Saw Chris at the Outpost a few weeks ago and was doing things on the tenor I didn’t know were possible!” he said over the air. But then, the 50s were pretty far out, too. Especially if you had grown up on Benny Goodman.

Arlen into his Monday morning radio show The Jazz Experience on KSFR ---- July 1, 2019 Santa Fe ---- photo by MW --------- I've always thought the name of his show was absolutely perfect, says it all ---- I also loved how Arlen re-introduced us to the term "spots" from older times, it refers to commercials ---- His theme song was "Invitation" by Bill Evans Trio

Arlen into his Monday morning radio show The Jazz Experience on KSFR —- July 1, 2019 Santa Fe —- photo by MW ——— I’ve always thought the name of his show was absolutely perfect, says it all —- I also loved how Arlen re-introduced us to the term “spots” from older times, it refers to commercials —- His theme song was “Invitation” by Bill Evans Trio

Arlen packing up after the show --- Hallway looking toward control room KSFR July 1, 2019 ---- photo by MW

Arlen packing up after the show — Hallway looking toward control room KSFR July 1, 2019 —- photo by MW

Arlen Asher Quartet ---- packed house at the Outpost Performance Space ---- May 4, 2017 ---- photo by MW (that's master pianist Jim Ahrend who moved here from Long Island not too long previous) ---- I think of the path of an artist as a journey toward equanimity, contentment, and peace (when I see an 80-year-old go into the furious & frantic hyperactive zone in a solo I can only surmise he hasn't gotten there) ---- Arlen did get there, (despite his habit of telling people after a concert that he was all washed up, played horrible ---- Those of us who have been around Arlen know this as standard Arlen, and politely ignore it)---------I do have "better" shots from this evening, but, I kinda like these blurry ones, too, this camera (Sony a6000) was new to me, so, I was on the learning curve

Arlen Asher Quartet —- packed house at the Outpost Performance Space —- May 4, 2017 —- photo by MW (that’s master pianist Jim Ahrend who moved here from Long Island not too long previous) —- I think of the path of an artist as a journey toward equanimity, contentment, and peace (when I see an 80-year-old go into the furious & frantic hyperactive zone in a solo I can only surmise he hasn’t gotten there) —- Arlen did get there, (despite his habit of telling people after a concert that he was all washed up, played horrible —- Those of us who have been around Arlen know this as standard Arlen, and politely ignore it)———I do have “better” shots from this evening, but, I kinda like these blurry ones, too, this camera (Sony a6000) was new to me, so, I was on the learning curve

The five saxophones that were SuperSax New Mexico in the studio at KUNM ---- Kanoa Kalihiwa, Lee Taylor, Arlen Asher, Dave Anderson, Glenn Kostur (saxophones), Bert Dalton(piano), Michael Glynn(bass), Cal Haines(drums), Bobby Shew(trumpet soloist) ---- Reading down the charts of the 1970 Los Angeles ensemble Supersax ---- Photo by MW May 15, 2011

The five saxophones that were SuperSax New Mexico in the studio at KUNM —- Kanoa Kalihiwa, Lee Taylor, Arlen Asher, Dave Anderson, Glenn Kostur (saxophones), Bert Dalton(piano), Michael Glynn(bass), Cal Haines(drums), Bobby Shew(trumpet soloist) —- Reading down the charts of the 1970 Los Angeles ensemble Supersax —- Photo by MW May 15, 2011

Patti Littlefield & Arlen playing for Paul Gonzales medical fund & general wellbeing October 21, 2018 ---- Cal Haines (drums), Colin Deuble (bass), Jim Ahrend (piano), Arlen (alto) ---- photo by MW

Patti Littlefield & Arlen playing for Paul Gonzales medical fund & general wellbeing October 21, 2018 —- Cal Haines (drums), Colin Deuble (bass), Jim Ahrend (piano), Arlen (alto) —- photo by MW

Tom Guralnick guest feature w/ ORJO ---- rehearsal December 2, 1995 ---- David Parlato(bass), Andy Poling(drums), and Arlen on his R13 (Buffet clarinet) ---- TG is playing bass sax which is now part of Vinny Golia's arsenal

Tom Guralnick guest feature w/ ORJO —- rehearsal December 2, 1995 —- David Parlato(bass), Andy Poling(drums), and Arlen on his R13 (Buffet clarinet) —- TG is playing bass sax which is now part of Vinny Golia’s arsenal

Arlen Asher Quartet ---- March 4, 2o18 ---- photo by MW ---- Soprano sax on "Summertime"

Arlen Asher Quartet —- March 4, 2o18 —- photo by MW —- Soprano sax on “Summertime”

Arlen Asher Baritone Saxophone Trio (Tribute to Gerry Mulligan) ---- March 15, 2012 w/ Michael Glynn(bass) & John Trentacosta(drums) @ Outpost Performance Space ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- My four all-time favorite baritone players are Lars Gullin, Bob Gordon, Jack Nimitz, AND Arlen Asher, for that creamy sound they get, in the Lestorian mode

Arlen Asher Baritone Saxophone Trio (Tribute to Gerry Mulligan) —- March 15, 2012 w/ Michael Glynn(bass) & John Trentacosta(drums) @ Outpost Performance Space —- photo by Mark Weber —- My four all-time favorite baritone players are Lars Gullin, Bob Gordon, Jack Nimitz, AND Arlen Asher, for that creamy sound they get, in the Lestorian mode

Arlen & Bobby Shew! May 9, 2019 ---- w/ Demi DiSanti(guitar), Steve Figueroa (electric piano), Sid Fendley (Steinway), Milo Jaramillo(bass) ---- photo by MW

Arlen & Bobby Shew! May 9, 2019 —- w/ Demi DiSanti(guitar), Steve Figueroa (electric piano), Sid Fendley (Steinway), Milo Jaramillo(bass) —- photo by MW

The jazz band called Straight Up, under the direction of drummer John Trentacosta, in quartet this night: Bob Fox(piano), David Parlato(bass), Arlen(woodwinds) at original location of Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque ---- March 4, 1996 photo by MW ----- Arlen was not a composer, he believed in pure improvisation upon well-known songs

The jazz band called Straight Up, under the direction of drummer John Trentacosta, in quartet this night: Bob Fox(piano), David Parlato(bass), Arlen(woodwinds) at original location of Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque —- March 4, 1996 photo by MW —– Arlen was not a composer, he believed in pure improvisation upon well-known songs

Lisa Polisar Trilogy which was normally a trio ---- this night expanded to sextet w/ Arlen and Lisa on flutes, Jack Manno(piano), Rick Fairbanks(bass)(David Parlato sat in, later, on bass), Michael Candito(drums), Michael Anthony(guitar) ---- May 5, 1997 old Outpost ---- photo by MW

Lisa Polisar Trilogy which was normally a trio —- this night expanded to sextet w/ Arlen and Lisa on flutes, Jack Manno(piano), Rick Fairbanks(bass)(David Parlato sat in, later, on bass), Michael Candito(drums), Michael Anthony(guitar) —- May 5, 1997 old Outpost —- photo by MW

Arlen & Dave Anderson ---- October 22, 2011 Albuquerque ---- photo by MW

Arlen & Dave Anderson —- October 22, 2011 Albuquerque —- photo by MW

Christine Fawson sings & plays flugelhorn "I Got the World on a String" ---- May 9, 2019 ---- photo by MW

Christine Fawson sings & plays flugelhorn “I Got the World on a String” —- May 9, 2019 —- photo by MW

Arlen on tenor ---- May 4, 2017 at Outpost Performance Space (Colin Deuble on bass) ---- photo by MW ----------- As you know, it was hard to get Arlen to talk about himself, you had to spend time with him and things we seep out ---- For example, we were driving down from Santa Fe one afternoon with all those wide panoramic vista views and Arlen says something about flying, and I asked "Arlen, are you saying that you flew airplanes?" Not only that but said he was thinking of renewing his pilot's license

Arlen on tenor —- May 4, 2017 at Outpost Performance Space (Colin Deuble on bass) —- photo by MW ———– As you know, it was hard to get Arlen to talk about himself, you had to spend time with him and things we seep out —- For example, we were driving down from Santa Fe one afternoon with all those wide panoramic vista views and Arlen says something about flying, and I asked “Arlen, are you saying that you flew airplanes?” Not only that but said he was thinking of renewing his pilot’s license

Paul Gonzales-Arlen Asher Quintet at the Outpost Performance Space —- March 17, 2011 w/ Brian Bennett(piano), Paul(trumpet), John Trentacosta(drums), Michael Glynn(bass), Arlen(woodwinds all sizes) —- photo by MW —- Paul’s 1st-grade teacher was Arlen’s wife Jo, at Montgomery Elementary School 1968, and she’d have Arlen visit the class to demonstrate all of his musical instruments, SO, Paul has known Arlen a long time! —- Arlen tells the story how young Paul picked the baritone to test and Arlen let Paul blow while he reached around and fingered the saxophone

Paul Gonzales-Arlen Asher Quintet at the Outpost Performance Space —- March 17, 2011 w/ Brian Bennett(piano), Paul(trumpet), John Trentacosta(drums), Michael Glynn(bass), Arlen(woodwinds all sizes) —- photo by MW —- Paul’s 1st-grade teacher was Arlen’s wife Jo, at Montgomery Elementary School 1968, and she’d have Arlen visit the class to demonstrate all of his musical instruments, SO, Paul has known Arlen a long time! —- Arlen tells the story how young Paul picked the baritone to test and Arlen let Paul blow while he reached around and fingered the saxophone

Arlen on piccolo! w/ ORJO Outpost Repertory Jazz Orchestra under the direction of David Parlato in rehearsal with guest conductor Roger Baker ----- Lee Taylor, Robbie Wilkerson, Bob Gusch (saxophones), David (bass), Andy Polin (drums), Steve Figueroa (piano), Michael Anthony (guitar) ---- December 2, 1995 ---- photo by MW

Arlen on piccolo! w/ ORJO Outpost Repertory Jazz Orchestra under the direction of David Parlato in rehearsal with guest conductor Roger Baker —– Lee Taylor, Robbie Wilkerson, Bob Gusch (saxophones), David (bass), Andy Polin (drums), Steve Figueroa (piano), Michael Anthony (guitar) —- December 2, 1995 —- photo by MW

Arlen Asher Quartet with guest Michael Herndon at St John's United Methodist Church, Albuquerque ---- March 4, 2018 --- John Blackburn(bass) Arlen (woodwinds), John Bartlit(drums), Jim Ahrend(piano) ---- photo by MW ---- Michael sang "Honeysuckle Rose" while the quartet played "Scrapple from the Apple" ------- In Arlen's opening remarks to this concert he told us that his very first gig was in a saloon on December 6, 1941 (by my calculations he was 12 years 7 months) "the day before the Pearl Harbor attack," which got his career off to a bang ----- John Blackburn harkens back to Arlen's 1979 album (Lp vinyl) MUSIC IS FOR SHARING, so, he's been with Arlen forty-plus years!

Arlen Asher Quartet with guest Michael Herndon at St John’s United Methodist Church, Albuquerque —- March 4, 2018 — John Blackburn(bass) Arlen (woodwinds), John Bartlit(drums), Jim Ahrend(piano) —- photo by MW —- Michael sang “Honeysuckle Rose” while the quartet played “Scrapple from the Apple” ——- In Arlen’s opening remarks to this concert he told us that his very first gig was in a saloon on December 6, 1941 (by my calculations he was 12 years 7 months) “the day before the Pearl Harbor attack,” which got his career off to a bang —– John Blackburn harkens back to Arlen’s 1979 album (Lp vinyl) MUSIC IS FOR SHARING, so, he’s been with Arlen forty-plus years!

The five saxophones that were SuperSax New Mexico in the studio at KUNM ---- Kanoa Kalihiwa, Lee Taylor, Arlen Asher, Dave Anderson, Glenn Kostur (saxophones), Bert Dalton(piano), Michael Glynn(bass), Cal Haines(drums), Bobby Shew(trumpet soloist) ---- Reading down the charts of the 1970 Los Angeles ensemble Supersax ---- Photo by MW May 15, 2011

The five saxophones that were SuperSax New Mexico in the studio at KUNM —- Kanoa Kalihiwa, Lee Taylor, Arlen Asher, Dave Anderson, Glenn Kostur (saxophones), Bert Dalton(piano), Michael Glynn(bass), Cal Haines(drums), Bobby Shew(trumpet soloist) —- Reading down the charts of the 1970 Los Angeles ensemble Supersax —- Photo by MW May 15, 2011

Arlen Asher (alto) subbing for Lee Taylor in Mark Tatum's Quintet at a hamburger joint/micro- brewery down on Gibison & Yale in Albuquerque w/ Mark(bass), John Bartlit(drums) Arnold Bodmer(piano) ---- photo by MW May 13, 2018

Arlen Asher (alto) subbing for Lee Taylor in Mark Tatum’s Quintet at a hamburger joint/micro- brewery down on Gibison & Yale in Albuquerque w/ Mark(bass), John Bartlit(drums) Arnold Bodmer(piano) —- photo by MW May 13, 2018

Such a perfect picture of a working jazz band ---- Arlen Asher Quartet at Bumble Bee Bob's much-loved taco joint in Santa Fe ---- Jon Gagan (bass), John Trentacosta (drums), Bert Dalton (elec-piano) ---- April 25, 2009 photo by MW

Such a perfect picture of a working jazz band —- Arlen Asher Quartet at Bumble Bee Bob’s much-loved taco joint in Santa Fe —- Jon Gagan (bass), John Trentacosta (drums), Bert Dalton (elec-piano) —- April 25, 2009 photo by MW

Straight Up ---- Michael Morreale, Bob Fox, John Trentacosta, David Parlato, Arlen Asher ---- April 17, 2000 photo by Mark Weber ---- Out in back of the Outpost before their gig that night ---- Michael flies in from Staten Island to play with these guys

Straight Up —- Michael Morreale, Bob Fox, John Trentacosta, David Parlato, Arlen Asher —- April 17, 2000 photo by Mark Weber —- Out in back of the Outpost before their gig that night —- Michael flies in from Staten Island to play with these guys

Paul Gonzales-Arlen Asher Quintet at the Outpost Performance Space ---- March 17, 2011 w/ Brian Bennett(piano), Paul(trumpet), John Trentacosta(drums), Michael Glynn(bass), Arlen(woodwinds all sizes) ---- photo by MW ---- Paul's 2nd-grade teacher was Arlen's wife Jo, so, he's known Arlen a long time!

Paul Gonzales-Arlen Asher Quintet at the Outpost Performance Space —- March 17, 2011 w/ Brian Bennett(piano), Paul(trumpet), John Trentacosta(drums), Michael Glynn(bass), Arlen(woodwinds all sizes) —- photo by MW —- Paul’s 2nd-grade teacher was Arlen’s wife Jo, so, he’s known Arlen a long time!

On Air ---- John Trentacosta & Arlen Asher combined their two shows: The Bopera House & The Jazz Experience and broadcast as a team for over ten years every Monday morning on KSFR Santa Fe, a much beloved radio show ----- I'm shooting through the glass window in the next room ---- October 17, 2010 ---- photo by MW

On Air —- John Trentacosta & Arlen Asher combined their two shows: The Bopera House & The Jazz Experience and broadcast as a team for over ten years every Monday morning on KSFR Santa Fe, a much beloved radio show —– I’m shooting through the glass window in the next room —- October 17, 2010 —- photo by MW

By the time Janet & I got to New Mexico, Bob Brown wasn't playing gigs anymore, so when Tom booked him for the New Mexico Jazz Festival Sunday Brunch series (various locals at cafes all over town, and I think in Santa Fe, too?) I was front row center ---- So, this is the only time I ever caught the infamous Bob Brown (1940-2018) of whom Arlen had a long-standing collaboration over radio, TV, and with the Arlen Asher-Bob Brown Quartet in the 1970s ---- They were still having lunch often in these latter days ---- I sure hope there are recordings of them somewhere, the only evidence on record is with them as sidemen on an Lp w/ singer Jacki McCarty in 1975 (Taos Blue Records) ---- Bob arrived in Albuquerque from Flint, Michigan, in 1964 ---- In this photo he's in duet with Bill West (right) and he's playing an odd Frankenstein of a guitar, when I asked perplexed whatNheck is that? He said he had the Pimentels make it for him in 1982, one of a kind ---- Bill is playing his beloved Benedetto ---- photo by MW July 20, 2014 at Scalo's, Nob Hill, Albuquerque ---- ALSO ALSO, Bob & Arlen's quintet can be found on entire Side B of Arlen's 1979 Lp MUSIC IS FOR SHARING

By the time Janet & I got to New Mexico, Bob Brown wasn’t playing gigs anymore, so when Tom booked him for the New Mexico Jazz Festival Sunday Brunch series (various locals at cafes all over town, and I think in Santa Fe, too?) I was front row center —- So, this is the only time I ever caught the infamous Bob Brown (1940-2018) of whom Arlen had a long-standing collaboration over radio, TV, and with the Arlen Asher-Bob Brown Quartet in the 1970s —- They were still having lunch often in these latter days —- I sure hope there are recordings of them somewhere, the only evidence on record is with them as sidemen on an Lp w/ singer Jacki McCarty in 1975 (Taos Blue Records) —- Bob arrived in Albuquerque from Flint, Michigan, in 1964 —- In this photo he’s in duet with Bill West (right) and he’s playing an odd Frankenstein of a guitar, when I asked perplexed whatNheck is that? He said he had the Pimentels make it for him in 1982, one of a kind —- Bill is playing his beloved Benedetto —- photo by MW July 20, 2014 at Scalo’s, Nob Hill, Albuquerque —- ALSO ALSO, Bob & Arlen’s quintet can be found on entire Side B of Arlen’s 1979 Lp MUSIC IS FOR SHARING

"Arlen's Sound" by MW

“Arlen’s Sound” by MW

8 Comments

  1. Patti Littlefield

    Ohhh Cuz.. this is so, so wonderful.. so beautiful. wow.. Talk about bringing the tears to the old blinkers. Just beautiful. I imagine Darlin’ Arlen would just smile a bit, shake his head and wonder out loud what the fuss was all about. Thank you for preserving these moments; his story so lovingly and so impeccably. PL

    • Steve Marsh

      What a beautiful collection of memories about dear Arlen!
      Thanks, Mark!!
      In my lessons with Arlen, we always played duets and traded phrases back and forth, and Arlen would switch around on his instruments. Maybe playing with his students was his main way of practicing and keeping him chops up. I definitely saw all his instruments set up on their stands at his home, for easy access. It makes sense, but I don’t dare leave many of my horns set up here in earthquake country (SoCal).

      Arlen and Bob Brown’s Jazz Radio show was really wonderful, and was a beautiful guitarist and a nice guy.
      Once they took a detour from their usual favorites, and did a whole radio show on John Klemmer’s music.

      Arlen once told me that he had attended Eric Dolphy’s concert in Albuquerque, and he had greatly enjoyed Eric’s amazing musicianship.

      Arlen’s great doubling skills could have set him up for the Hollywood recording studios, but he didn’t want that kind of pressure. Arlen’s alto solos did remind me of Bud Shank sometimes!
      Back when I studied with Gary Foster, I mentioned Arlen’s name and Gary said, “Oh yes, I remember hearing Arlen play back in Kansas. He was really good.”

      Interesting to see John Blackburn’s photo after so many years. I remember when he was the new hot Jaco influenced bassist in Albuquerque. Whew, so long ago!

      What a beautiful, caring man Arlen was to have left behind so many lovely memories.

  2. Mark A Weber

    A FEW MORE STANZAS AND ASSORTED NOTES

    Lunch at Mannie’s (June 2019)
    I had my usual cheeseburger & fries
    Arlen pork chops & mashed potatoes
    For dessert we both opted for pie a la mode
    Apple for me, cherry for Arlen

    We were talking about being “in the game”
    And expenses involved sometimes
    He said his cd ANOTHER SPRING cost him a whopping $10,000

    He recently lost or misplaced his clarinet
    or, it was stolen, he’s retraced his steps and it
    is a mystery, it’s the LeBlanc student model he bought
    not long ago for $300
    because he got so he couldn’t comfortably finger his R13,
    arthritis, the worst thing was losing mouthpiece he’s been using
    40 years, so, after dropping me off he’s heading over to Baum’s
    Music to try out mouthpieces

    Arlen as always asking me about yoga
    so, on the way home I had him slide by High Desert Yoga studios
    but they were closed for mid-afternoon break
    He peeked through the windows
    I demonstrated a couple simple yoga postures (Tadasana and
    side-bend) in the courtyard and he matched me
    with alacrity

    As we drove past
    where Ed Black Chevrolet used to be on San Mateo (a Walmart
    there now) he says that me made a television commercial for
    Ed Black Chevrolet (circa 1962) “they had just come out with
    video cameras then,” Bob Farley (trumpet) wrote a blues
    the ensemble played on-camera, and they superimposed
    a Chevy in the bell of his baritone!

    At the Chris Potter Circuits Trio concert a couple months ago,
    Arlen as sitting with us, totally enthralled
    with the music —- One tune baffled me, I asked what
    the
    time signature was, he said, “I have no idea. This is the first time
    I’ve been at a concert and don’t know what’s going on!”

    “Arlen is a person who believes almost religiously
    in the nobility of art,” says another journal entry

    As he got older
    Winter was harder on him
    One year Cal took Arlen’s truck
    and got him firewood from out of the Jemez
    (their home in Pena Blanca was off the grid, solar-power’d
    and wood-heated)
    As TG says, Arlen is a tough old bird, he
    just keeps ticking
    Not even that brain surgery (an infection) in 2012
    could stop him, he was taking gigs soon after

    I call Arlen to tell him about this King Oliver session I have
    that we need listen to, he’s still staying at Connie Farley’s (May 2020)
    he says, “My mind is in my pajamas” and then corrected himself, it being
    almost Noon, “I’m starting my 92nd year still in my pajamas” —-
    I told him I just read (saxophonist) Bob Wilber’s autobiography and
    he explains meticulously how he made exact charts of King Oliver tunes
    and
    I now have that album, “You got to hear it! A modern recording of Oliver’s
    records!”
    “I’ll wear my mask!” he said (the pandemic having hit USA in January)

    It was a year or so, ago
    he told me about Bobby Shew in the late 50s”
    (Arlen & Jo & two boys arrived in Albuquerque 1958)
    “My quintet had a regular gig at the Sunset Inn (in the building that
    is now Monzano Day School) on Central
    “. . . when this youngster came in and asked to sit in,
    no older than 17, and already good”

    Email from woodwinds master Gary Foster to MW writing from L.A. area (15may2009)
    “We spoke briefly of Arlen Asher when you were here. When I was attending
    high school in Leavenworth, Kansas, in the early 1950s Arlen was a member of
    the band at Fort Leavenworth, the Army base nearby. I heard him play many times.
    After graduation in 1954, one of his band colleagues, trumpet player Paul Montemurro
    and I became roommates at a small college in Missouri. I recently saw Paul when I was
    in the midwest. Another band member there, with whom I played weekend dance jobs
    at the VFW Hall in Leavenworth, was drummer Nick Martinis. Nick has been here
    for many years and always played with Pete Jolly’s trio. I doubt Arlen remembers our
    meetings. I have heard his name many times over the years.”

    He interviewed Stan Kenton for his TV show in Ames, Iowa, 1955 or 1956! Also,
    LOUIS ARMSTRONG!!

    I’m having soup of the day at Flying Star on Central: clam chowder —- Arlen doesn’t like —-
    He has mac-cheese grilled sandwich and onion rings (I had
    club sandwich and coleslaw, after my Soup of the Day)
    Says in the 1970s he & Bob Brown brought Clark Terry
    out to play in their quintet for a performance at The Boys Academy
    (now known as Albuquerque Academy) to inaugurate the newly
    built auditorium —–

    After lunch we walk around Nob Hill, he shows me where KNME-TV original
    offices were and his friendship with George Fischbeck who broadcast here
    in New Mexico before making it big in Los Angeles (he was a popular newscaster
    when I was growing up) that their children all grew up together (KNME’s first
    broadcast was 1958, the city was growing fast)

    As we drive past Highland High I say that’s where Doug Lawrence went to school —-
    Arlen says he was assistant music/band teacher with a guy
    named Cleveland, 1958-1959, just for those couple when they first moved here

  3. Joseph Somoza

    sounds like another musician whose love of music enables him to live a long life–like Andres Segovia and Pablo Casals. Interesting account and photos.

  4. Mike Johnston

    Excellent, a wonderful tribute. Tons of great photos. Thanks.

  5. Mark A Weber

    Another word that perfectly describes Arlen is: Solicitude —-
    He never failed to inquire on your wellbeing,
    “How are you doing?” bending
    in close with his eyes full of earnest concern

  6. Patti Littlefield

    Dear Mark;

    Your Arlen Tribute Page just keeps getting better and better, Thank you for helping to make sure Arlen’s Light will always keep shining.

    I wanted to let you all know that The NMMC (New Mexico Musician’s Coalition) in partnership with Tom Guralnick & Outpost Productions & John Trentacosta (Santa Fe Music Collective) have been working for several months now on a tribute video to Darlin’ Arlen and to his love for music and most especially to his passion which was and still is Music Education.

    We’ve just about finished the Arlen Asher Tribute video, which will be posted on YouTube and is a fund raiser for the “Arlen and Joetha Callison Asher Scholarship Fund”, founded at Outpost by NM jazz education and woodwind icon, Arlen Asher, and first offered in 1996 as a 5-week tutorial to some of Albuquerque’s finest young jazz talents.

    Since that time, with the generous & loving support of this wonderful Community of musicians and music lovers, the Arlen and Joetha Callison Asher Music Education Program at Outpost has grown to include classes for adults as well as youth. We are planning on a YouTube reveal of this wonderful tribute on Arlen’s Birthday, May 7, 2021.

    Please go to https://tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/372615 for more information. Thank you!

  7. Paul Gonzales

    So many great and beautiful shots, Mark! Decades of history with Arlen. Love your stories of the man and musician. He was one of a kind. Super talented, yet the most humble. It was always a treat to catch Arlen in performance or to just hang out with such a kind and caring man.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 Mark Weber

Theme by Anders Noren adapted for M.etropolis by RavanHUp ↑

Shopping Cart

There are no items in your cart.

Continue Shopping
%d bloggers like this: