Bebop musician to headline concert series

-A A +A
By The Staff


The Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series presents “The Prince of Bebop,” Greg Abate. The show starts at 7 p.m. today at Ashley Pond.

Bebop became famous in the 1940s into the 1950’s coming from the scat singing of folks like Dizzy Gillespie. He would sing nonsensical lyrics, such a lyric as “bebop.” There were songs like Lionel Hampton’s “Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop” and the 1950s Gene Vincent classic “Be-Bop-A-Lula.” Ella Fitzgerald sang a lot of scat, but her biggest hit was “A Tisket-A-Tasket, I Lost My Yellow Basket.” It was a faster music than the swing music of the 1930s and focused on improvisation. The bands were mostly small combos.

The genre is also noted for songwriters. Abate’s a composer and arranger, a must for a top bebop musician. At the show today, he’ll play a lot of own songs, as well as some jazz standards like “Birdland,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Take The ‘A’ Train” and “Body and Soul.” The songs typically start and end on a theme with a rhythm section holding it all together.

Abate’s rhythm section features Madrid drummer, Pete Amahl. He has played for years with country star Junior Brown. He’s also played with Natalie Cole, Roy Hargrove, Barney Kessell, The Drifters, Martha & the Vandellas, Mose Allison, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney and many more. On keyboards is one of New Mexico’s top jazz players, John Rangel.

Rangel has played with Nat Adderly, Bobby Shew, Ravi Coltrane and Pharoah Saunders among others. The bassist is Andy Zadrozny. Originally from Seattle, Zadrozny now lives in Santa Fe and professionally plays classical, salsa, klezmer, soca, reggae, jazz, Middle Eastern and World Music.

Abate is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He’s played all over the world, has been nominated for four Grammies, played lead alto sax with the Ray Charles Orchestra and tenor sax with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. He plays approximately 200 dates a year and is the adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at Rhode Island College.

The Washington Post said Abate is “one of the most exciting sax players out there today.”

The concert will premiere its new stage. “Such a super venue we now have,” coordinator Russ Gordon said. “We now have great sound and lighting, beauty and so much energy. Congratulations to the county.” On June 13, the concert series will present with Los Alamos’ own, the Red Elvises at Ashley Pond.

The show will be KRSN AM 1490 and KRSN FM 107.1 appreciation night.