Las Cruces Plans Two-Months Of Jazz And Arts Events

Las Cruces – "Jam Session in Las Cruces," a two-month long series of events that focus on the art and culture of jazz, will take place at various city locations between December 10, 2010 and February 3, 2011. The project will feature multi-media exhibits,concerts, films, public gallery talks, and educational outreach to students of all ages.

The centerpiece of the project is an exhibit on loan from the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. titled "Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World." The exhibit tells the story of American cultural diplomacy as the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world beginning in the mid-1950s. In Las Cruces, the exhibit will be housed at the Branigan Cultural Center and will be open for public viewing Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. each day.

Other associated events include four major concerts by internationally renowned touring artists. These concerts begin with a tribute to Louis Armstrong featuring trumpet player and vocalist Byron Stripling with the NMSU Jazz Ensemble on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rio Grande Theatre. The Jim Cullum Jazz Band will play a concert at the Atkinson Recital Hall on the NMSU campus on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. Jazz and classical pianist Willis Delony will perform inside the exhibit space at the Branigan Cultural Center on Wednesday, January 26 at 7:30 p.m., and the series will conclude with New York jazz piano legend Junior Mance and his quintet at the Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.

The Rio Grande Theatre will host a film and local concert series during "Jam Session in Las Cruces."

There will be live concerts every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., followed by a jazz-oriented film at 7:00 p.m. The entire film series and all Every Other Tuesday concerts are free and open to the public. Films will include "High Society," "Round Midnight," "The Benny Goodman Story," "Mo'Better Blues," "Satchmo: The Genius of Louis Armstrong," and a special holiday double feature of "Holiday Inn" and "White Christmas." Local performing artists will include the New Horizons Band, the MST Jazz Trio, Roman Chip, Allan Kaplan, the Creole Jazz Band, and Ken Neidig with the Jazz Unlimited Big Band.

The Rio Grande Theatre will also have two galleries filled with local and Southwest jazz memorabilia. One will focus on the history of jazz in the Las Cruces/El Paso area. The other will be devoted to Albuquerque artist Jim Gale.

NMSU Music Professor Dr. James Shearer, along with Bob Burns, Ken Neidig, and Dr. Bill Thompson, will offer a series of gallery talks every Saturday at the Branigan Cultural Center beginning at 11:00 a.m. (with the exception of Christmas and New Year's Day). These talks are free and open to the public and there will also be guided tours of the exhibit. To schedule a guided tour or for more information about any of these events, please contact the Branigan Cultural Center at 575-541-2155 or for a complete list of events, time, and exhibits visit the "Jam Session in Las Cruces" website at:

Thomas Branigan Memorial Library is located at 200 E. Picacho Ave. Las Cruces, NM 88001.

The Rio Grande Theater is located at 211 N. Downtown Mall Las Cruces, NM 88001.