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

·2 min read

Dec. 24—Editor's note: Venue Plus continues "In Case You Didn't Know," a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Life is pretty crazy for JQ Whitcomb.

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

His next performance is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26, at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe.

The trumpet player will be performing with his band What the What, which also consists of Jon Gagan and Robby Rothschild. The event is called "Space to Dig."

"We've been together for quite awhile," Whitcomb says. "It's a funk, world music, jazz group. It mixes all those styles and we play a lot of original composition from people in the band. It's trumpet, bass and percussion."

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

"It's so good to be able to play again," he says. "In New York, things are way more open and there have been more opportunities. I'm sad to see El Mesón closed permanently. It was the main jazz venue in Santa Fe for musicians to play regularly. It's a pretty big blow to the jazz scene here."

Whitcomb has been in New Mexico for nearly a month and performed one show in Albuquerque in early December.

"I organized the CCA show specifically as a way to get What the What to perform," he says. "It's such a fun project to be involved with. When we come together, it's like magic. All three of us are constantly working on music on our own. When we hit the stage together, we let it ride."

What the What released an album in 2015 and Whitcomb is hoping that trio will get together to record another album.

"It's been way too long," he says. "We've all been working on music."

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

"I lived in China working as a jazz musician for 8 years."

"I speak Mandarin fluently."

"I'm working on (learning to speak) Portuguese and modern Greek now."

"I love playing board games with my family at the holidays."

"I spent the early part of the pandemic getting obsessed with identifying tree species because of reading 'The Overstory.'"

What the What

Featuring JQ Whitcomb, Jon Gagan, Robby Rothschild

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26

WHERE: Center for Contemporary Arts' Tank Garage/Muñoz Waxman Gallery, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe

HOW MUCH: $20 at ccasantafe.org. Proof of vaccination or recent negative test result required as per CCA policies.

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