Out on the Town
Club Legato strikes a chord as Santa Fe’s only full-time jazz club.
By Jennifer Levin I Photos by Luis Sánchez Saturno
Santa Fe New Mexican
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Club Legato strikes a chord as Santa Fe’s only full-time jazz club. Bebop’s on tap at Club Legato. As are ragtime, cool jazz, and jazz fusion. At Santa Fe’s only full-time jazz club, located at La Casa Sena, photos of jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Bobby Womack on the smoky gray walls set the stage for the house band’s takes on favorites by Cole Porter, Pat Metheny, and Dave Brubeck. The music pairs with the bar’s creative craft cocktails — green chile martini, anyone? “I walk in there, dragging my feet after a hard day, and come out feeling totally lifted in my soul. The energy is incredible. It’s my favorite club in town,” says Lyra Barron. The Santa Fe business owner and Legato regular stops by at least one evening a week. The Robert Fox Trio plays Friday and Saturday night, with Fox on piano, Cyrus Campbell on bass, and club programmer John Trentacosta on drums. Legato opened in 2021, but Trentacosta and Fox have been playing together since the 1990s as members of the deep and varied Santa Fe music scene. Fox accompanied the singing waiters of La Casa Sena’s Cantina for decades, and Trentacosta is the longtime host of the Bopera House, a radio show airing on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSFR. He also directs the Santa Fe Music Collective, a nonprofit that presents monthly ticketed concerts at Legato. “My concerts might have someone from out of state, or sometimes there’s a theme — a tribute to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, or someone else. It’s very well rehearsed. People are really coming to a show,” says Trentacosta, who taught jazz history at Santa Fe Community College for many years. He spends breaks between sets talking to people — tourists who came on a concierge’s recommendation as well as locals who hear about Legato by word of mouth. “They find us and keep coming back. They’re blown away because they didn’t know Santa Fe had anything like this.” A no-talking policy for guests is in place on nights music takes center stage, but even on regular nights, Fox says, the music is primary. The band plays in the middle of the L-shaped room, where every seat has a perfect view and the sound envelopes but doesn’t overpower the space. “That really says a lot about what the club is about and what it’s supposed to be about. We’re not background music; we’re listening music. People are there to eat, but the response [to the music] is great.” La Casa Sena’s food accompanies the music. It’s an indulgence, from the beet and burrata salad to the pork ossobuco. The hand-crafted cocktails deserve applause, especially the Sena Rita, a vivid fuchsia alchemy of tequila, orange liqueur, and hibiscus syrup to sip as your mind travels the rhythms and harmonies of Bill Evans’ “Alice in Wonderland” or Coltrane’s “Autumn Serenade.” Legato patrons arrive with a range of jazz knowledge. Some know the music as well as the band. Wednesday night instrumental jam sessions are open to local musicians and have attracted flutists, saxophone and trumpet players, violinists, and occasionally singers. But novices are invited — and educated. “We tell them to listen to John’s radio show,” says Fox. Barron sees Club Legato as nothing less than a blessing. “I’m single and I was looking for something good to do, where I can talk to people or just sit up front and let the music wash over me. To have musicians of this caliber playing for free, four nights a week, it’s an incredible gift to this town. Certainly, it’s been a gift in my life.” IF YOU GO: Club Legato is open Wednesday through Saturday. On Thursday, the trio becomes a quartet with the addition of saxophonist Alex Murzyn. Ordinarily, there’s no cover charge. For a performance schedule, go to lacasasena.com/club-legato.