Santa Fe native JQ Whitcomb returns to NM with musical group What the What

Santa Fe native JQ Whitcomb will perform at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe on Sunday, December 26. (Courtesy of Eduardo Patino NYC)

Editor’s Note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun news about new Mexicans and their projects.

Life is crazy enough for JQ Whitcomb.

The Santa Fe native spends most of his time in New York. But during the holiday season, he returns to New Mexico to perform a few shows.

Its next performance is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 26 at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe.

The trumpeter will perform with his band What the What, also made up of Jon Gagan and Robby Rothschild. The event is called “Space to Dig”.

What the What is a jazz trio consisting of Robby Rothschild, JQ Whitcomb and Jon Gagan.

“We’ve been together for a while,” Whitcomb says. “It’s a funk, world music and jazz band. He mixes all these styles and we play a lot of original compositions from the band members. It’s trumpet, bass and percussion.

Whitcomb is happy to be back in New Mexico to perform.

“It’s so good to be able to play again,” he said. “In New York, things are much more open and there have been more opportunities. I am sad to see El Mesón closed permanently. It was Santa Fe’s main jazz venue where musicians played regularly. It’s quite a blow for the jazz scene here.

Whitcomb has been in New Mexico for almost a month and performed in Albuquerque in early December.

“I organized the CCA show specifically to perform What the What,” he says. “It’s so much fun to be part of a project. When we come together, it’s like magic. The three of us are constantly working on the music on our own. When we go on stage together, we let it roll.

What the What released an album in 2015 and Whitcomb hopes the trio will reunite to record another album.

“It’s been too long,” he said. “We all worked on the music.”

As Whitcomb plans the next album with What the What, here are a few things you didn’t know about him:

  1. “I lived in China as a jazz musician for 8 years.”
  2. “I speak Mandarin fluently.”
  3. “I’m working (learning to speak) Portuguese and Modern Greek now.”
  4. “I love playing board games with my family on vacation.”
  5. “I spent the early part of the pandemic obsessing over identifying tree species from reading ‘The Overstory’. ”

What what
Starring JQ Whitcomb, Jon Gagan, Robby Rothschild
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, December 26
WHERE: Center for Contemporary Art Tank Garage / Muñoz Waxman Gallery, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe
HOW MANY: $20 at ccasantafe.org. Proof of vaccination or recent negative test result required as per ACC policies.

William N. Fernandez