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

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 pm 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 pm


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