Music on the Hill

- June 7, 2012

"7th Season kicks off with Bert Dalton and The Brazil Project..."

Mark your calendars for Wednesdays in June and July for Music on the Hill, the free summer concert series at St. John’s College.

Bert Dalton and The Brazil Project open this wonderful series on Wednesday, June 13 at 6 p.m.  I’d say the “doors open at 5:30,” but there are no doors – the concert happening, as they all do, on the athletic field at St. John’s on Camino Cruz Blanca. And, the most athletic events you might see are the kids running wildly around and people dancing on the grass in front of the bandstand. Unless, of course, you count the number of times I flex my arm to bring a glass of wine to my lips as I sit and enjoy what has become one of Santa Fe’s signature summer events.

Dalton’s Brazil Project consists of pianist and arranger Dalton, vocalist Patty Stephens, bassist Rob “Milo” Jaramillo, percussionist Frank Leto and drummer John Bartlit. Their music is a blend of traditional, contemporary and original Brazilian jazz. Samba and bossa nova rhythms, the excitement of Carnival, sensuous songs in Portuguese and English, fiery percussion, and top-flight jazz and Latin improvisations make the Brazil Project one of the most exciting new bands in the Southwest.

The season continues on June 20 and June 27 with Lori Carsillo, jazz vocalist and jazz flugelhorn player, Ron Hellman, respectively. Carsillo is a Bay-Area vocalist who has been getting great reviews in publications like Downbeat.  And, if you are unsure what a flugelhorn is, I think it could best be described as a jazz trumpet with the kind of distinctive depth of resonance that has made the Allstate commercials of actor/spokesperson Dennis Haysbert so recognizable on TV. Ladies, you KNOW what I mean: that deep-sounding, soothing voice, which makes the rest of us men sound like boys with voices trying to navigate puberty. Flugelhorn is the ultimate sultry jazz instrument. 

Music on the Hill takes a week off for July 4 and returns on July 11 with Janice and Vinnie Zummo, jazz vocals and guitar; followed by two of my favorites: the great Bobby Shew, jazz trumpeter on July 18 and the luscious-sounding Hillary Smith with Soul Kitchen on July 25. Didn’t have a chance to see her after her performances with Bert Dalton’s show band for National Dance Institute in May, but I can tell you that everyone has been talking about that Motown extravaganza ever since. She was and is amazing.

Concert-goers are also encouraged to picnic on the field – what would a summer concert be without a picnic? You can bring your own picnic or purchase food from Walter Burke Catering and beverages from Sunflower Market. Sorry, no pets allowed on campus and bicycles must be parked in designated areas, but that is a great way to get there.

Santa Fe Trails shuttle buses run every 20 minutes from 5 to 9 p.m. between the Museum Hill main parking lot and Udall parking lots and the bus stop on Camino Cruz Blanca near the field. For additional details about parking options on and off campus, visit St. John’s website.

In case of inclement weather requiring cancellation of a concert, the St. John’s College switchboard (984-6000) will have updated information. I have always liked that word: “inclement.” In our high desert environment, most of us would not consider anything less than an Atlantic hurricane inclement. Music on the Hill is usually greeted by wonderful sunsets and then later, maybe, some rain.