There’s no easier theme to pull out of a jazz festival than that of legacy. And that’s what jumps out from the lineup of this year’s New Mexico Jazz Festival, which began on July 11 at the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque and shifts to Santa Fe on Sunday, July 20, for a performance from a group led by legends Dick Hyman and Bucky Pizzarelli. The legacy theme is most obvious in the booking of the Jack DeJohnette Trio with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison. As a young Chicago transplant in mid-1960s New York, DeJohnette played behind Coltrane’s father, the saxophone titan John Coltrane. Garrison’s father, Jimmy Garrison, was the group’s bassist. Hyman, a living, breathing encyclopedia of early piano styles, is a one-man compendium of jazz history, and guitarist Pizzarelli, father of popular guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli, is also a fret-pressing piece of jazz past. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington’s ultramodern Mosaic Project has made a significant contribution to the legacy of women in jazz just by employing so many. Festival co-director Tom Guralnick points out that drummer Tootie Heath, who played the Outpost as part of the festival on July 13, is from one of jazz’s great families, which includes saxophonist Jimmy Heath and the late bassist Percy Heath.
Guralnick admits that the word legacy wasn’t on his mind when he assembled this year’s lineup. “These associations didn’t come by design. I look at who’s available, who’d be popular, and that’s how it’s decided.” The legacy issue is sure to come up at this year’s “Meet the Artist“ discussion at the Lensic on July 26. National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master DeJohnette will give a talk with writer and critic A.B. Spellman, a fixture at the festival for the last three years. Guralnick said he feels like the festival has settled into a comfortable framework, with a mix of concerts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, including free events offered in both cities. “The fest is a little shorter, a little more condensed, than it was in the first couple of years, when we’d have two concerts on one night in two cities. It wasn’t tenable to do that. But I like the rhythm we’ve gotten into now.”