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Jazz workshop throws ‘Mother Road’ a bash

Series mixes relaxed atmosphere with a laid-back show

Albuquerque may not be the most well-known city in the United States, but it does have some great things going for it: the Rio Grande and Balloon Fiesta are cool, but what connects this area to the rest of the world is historic Route 66.

Route 66 isn’t just a road. It’s a part of U.S. history, which, according to the National Historic Route 66 Federation Web site, was conceived in the 1920s with the goal of joining cities between Chicago, Ill., and Los Angeles, Calif., and helping bring economic growth to the United States as a fast, cheap means of transportation. Slogans have popped up through the years, the most repeated being “get your kicks on Route 66,” and, today, the 2,400 miles of open road is a practical and very lucrative tourist attraction.

The “Mother Road” turned 75 this year and groups such as the New Mexico Jazz Workshop zealously celebrated its birthday Saturday with a concert in its “Jazz Under the Stars” series titled “The Musicians of Route 66 — 1950s Musician’s Reunion.” The evening consisted of laid-back performances by Frank Chewiwie and his Latin American All-Stars, the John Lewis Quartet and Tee Knox, among others.

The enclosed concert area at the Albuquerque Museum Sculpture Garden was comfortable, with tables and chairs set up for audience members, and caterers provided food and drinks for an even more relaxed atmosphere. Though few audience members were under the age of 50, it was still a place where younger people could have a good time.

The New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s 25th anniversary season is quickly nearing its end and will conclude with two final concerts scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

“The Jazz Under the Stars” season concludes Saturday with music by the Tony Cesarano Quartet and Pat Rhoads and Patty Stephens Octet. The final “Salsa Under the Stars” concert will be held Friday, with music by Encanto. Both performances run from 7-10 p.m. at the Albuquerque Museum Sculpture Garden, 2000 Mountain Rd. N.W. Tickets for all shows cost $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $7 for NMJW members, and children under 12 get in free.

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The Madrid Blues Festival continues with the Late Summer Blues Fest on Aug. 5 with Zydeco artist CJ Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band, The Sultans, Joannie & The Mooncats and Larry Freedman. The Labor Day Blues Fest on Sept. 2 will feature Tab Benoit, the Memphis P’tails, Albuquerque Blues Connection and Chris Dracup.

Tickets for all events can be purchased through the New Mexico Jazz Workshop at 255-9798 or Ticketmaster at 883-7800 or

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