Craig Martin Experience Jazzes Up Saturday Night Crowd at Blue Window Bistro

Patrons at the Blue Window Bistro Saturday night couldn’t get enough of the Craig Martin Experience and called for an encore following their two hour jazz performance. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

The Craig Martin Experience performing at the Blue Window Bistro Saturday night. Carol A. Clark/


Los Alamos Daily Post

Craig Martin Experience helped audience members bop into 2014 at Blue Window Bistro Jazz Night Saturday. Los Alamos’ own seven piece jazz ensemble just gets better and better. CME has been swinging together for two years.

In addition to band leader Craig Martin on tenor sax, CME consists of Quinn Marksteiner on alto saxophone, Carl Hagelberg on trumpet, Mike Rogers on guitar, Aaron Anderson on keyboard, Rob Heineman on bass and John Frary on drums.

CME has played four previous gigs at Blue Window, and the Bistro is a great venue for the band. It’s small and the band is large and therefore fairly loud, but the sound is so great, it all works out. Blue Window is intimate and cozy without being too crowded.

Did I mention BW has great food? Blue Window had a special jazz Night menu as well as its great dinner menu available Saturday. I almost always choose fish, since they do it so well. Swordfish and salmon were on the specials menu, but I couldn’t see past one of my favorite BW meals, seafood pasta. It was excellent as always. I also couldn’t pass up bourbon bread pudding from the special menu. It was divine. My dining companion gave rave reviews to her southwest stuffed chicken breast.

CME plays a wide variety of jazz standards. They lean more toward Dizzy Gillespie than Duke Ellington, but you might hear just about any kind of jazz, from swing through bop and funk. CME threw in ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Let it Snow’ Saturday night.

A special treat was an original jazz waltz by trumpeter Carl Hagelberg, as well as his arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Birk’s Works.” Birk is Dizzy’s birth name, Martin informed the audience. It’s wonderful to know jazz is not only being played but composed, right here in Los Alamos.

CME is so obviously a labor of love for these musicians, who were clearly having a good time Saturday. Although music is an avocation for all of them except Heineman, it’s clearly vying with their other careers for first place in their hearts. When the audience demanded an encore following the two-hour show, they were happy to oblige.

One of the terrific things about jazz is hearing the solo riffs as each musician takes a turn in the spotlight. It gives the audience a chance to appreciate each musician. Quinn Marksteiner excels at this, but the rest of the band was giving him a run for his money Saturday, Rogers on guitar and Hagelberg on trumpet were in especially fine form.

If you haven’t managed to hear CME yet, you’ll have your next chance at the UNM-LA Music Marathon, which takes place from 2-8 p.m. Jan.19 in the UNM-LA Student Center. CME is the final act. Jazz is not only fun to hear, it will actually cure what ails you, Martin told me Saturday. Take the Jazz Cure with CME soon.

The front line, Quinn Marksteiner. left on alto sax, Carl Hagelberg on trumpet and Craig Martin on tenor sax. Carol A. Clark/

Mike Rogers pulls some strings. Carol A. Clark/

Carl Hagelberg  blows a jazzy note. Carol A. Clark/

Quinn Marksteiner gets into his solo. Carol A. Clark/