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Tall Tall Trees to log Tucson appearance with way-out banjo music

Tucson Jazz Festival

Tall Tall Trees to log Tucson appearance with way-out banjo music

  • Tall Tall Trees's one-man show will take place at The Monica for the 2023 Tucson Jazz Festival.
    Sandlin GaitherTall Tall Trees's one-man show will take place at The Monica for the 2023 Tucson Jazz Festival.

New York performer Mike Savino — known by his artistic name Tall Tall Trees — will put on a one-man show at the 2023 Tucson Jazz Festival.

He will perform at The Monica, 40 E. Congress St. on Friday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. With his banjo in hand, the songwriter said people should be ready to see something they've never seen before.

Savino's formal musical training was in jazz. He attended the The New School's School of Jazz where he played bass. His training and dedication was one leading him to a serious career as a bassist.

"I would even go to sleep listening to jazz," Savino said.

As he progressed and grew musically, he took a "left turn."

"There was a banjo in the closet, and I took it out," Savino said. "I used to think I'd play bass for different people and make a career like that."

He's left New York to North Carolina almost eight years ago, and he's transitioned into exploring folk and bluegrass.

"This happens with both jazz and folk, that if you step outside of the box of tradition, people kind of just raise a brow," Savino said. "And I love going outside the box."

Savino's music puts his banjo front and center, but — much like Tucson's late, great Rainer Ptacek with his guitar — he often layers it with reverb and delay, recorded loops, and percussive effects. He'll drum on his instrument, or use a bow, and build up varied textured to support the lyrics of his songs.

He said he doesn't have a setlist prepared for his performance — or any of his shows. Savino enjoys engaging with the audience and improvising on the stage the way the music moves him.

"To me, being on stage in front of people is such a sacred thing," Savino said. "I love improvising and mixing my songs together."

His performance for the 2023 Tucson Jazz Festival will be free to attend. It will take place at The Monica on Friday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m.

Bianca Morales is’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.


Tucson Jazz Festival 2023

Jazz up January with performances by over 100 world-class musicians. The Tucson Jazz Festival is returning Friday, Jan. 13 to Sunday, Jan. 22.

Some of this year's headliners include Pink Martini featuring China Forbes, Tatiana Eva-Marie and Avalon Jazz Band, Samara Joy, Tall Tall Trees, and The Guide among others.

There will be two other components aside from the main festival shows - the TJF Jam and the Downtown Jazz Fiesta. The Fiesta will be a free event for the public, Monday, Jan. 16 on the Hotel Congress Plaza, starting at 11 a.m., with performances by jazz bagpiper Gunhild Carling, plus Gabriel Ayala, Homero Cerón Latin Jazz Nonet, Elliot Mason and others.

The festival starts Friday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. with a performance by Joshua Redman at the Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

All the shows will take place in the following venues: Centennial Hall, Hotel Congress Plaza, Century Room, Tucson Convention Center, the Century Room, The Playground, Fox Theatre, the Monica and the Rialto Theatre.

People who wish to attend can purchase tickets through the TJF website.

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