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Exploring the Tucson jazz scene with Autumn Dominguez

UArizona alum hones craft building up jazz community
Posted: 7:17 PM, May 06, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-06 23:10:21-04
Autumn Dominguez.jpg

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Century Room at Hotel Congress is becoming a hub for jazz musicians across Southern Arizona.

One of its rising stars is Autumn Dominguez.

"Well, I graduated from the University of Arizona, from the jazz program," she shared. "Angelo Versace was my jazz professor; he's a wonderful pianist. And my, one of my mentors Jason Carter, trumpet player. And my classical professor Dr. Edward Goodman was a really big impact on my life."

Dominguez credits her professors for not only teaching her, but also giving her the push she needed to get involved in the Tucson jazz scene.

I had some really awesome classical professors as well as jazz, and they pushed me, for sure.

And through my professors and my peers, I kind of started meeting people in the Tucson scene and, yeah, just kinda inserted myself and started performing.

Along with performing, she enjoys teaching students at the locally owned Chicago Music Store.

"The Chicago Music Store has a lot of people that come in wanting to buy instruments for their kids, and so, basically there's a picture of me and 'saxophone teacher' next to it, and a lot of kids are like 'I want to learn jazz' or 'I want to do this,'" she explains. "I feel like I learn a lot from teaching, myself, especially from kids because they teach me patience."

She says her students' enthusiasm is humbling.

They remind me, like, of that childlike thing of enjoying life and, you know, not losing your childlike love for music.

Maybe they kind of keep me in check with that 'cause as an adult pursuing music, sometimes it can be hard to maintain the passion for it and optimism.

Her new album "Sunflower Seeds" is a collection of compositions she's written, including the title track inspired through the death of her great-grandpa.

"The main title track 'Sunflower Seeds,' I wrote for my great-grandfather 'cause he actually loved Dill Pickle sunflower seeds," Dominguez revealed. "So, that's why the song's named that, funny enough."

This song describes the process she went through while healing.

The lyrics are kind of talking about how someone passes away, and you grow from it, and your tears feed the earth.

Dominguez may also have the last-known recording of jazz legend Lee Konitz. She met him in New York City only a year before his death.

She's including it in her album.

Lee Konitz Last Known Recording "West 86th Street" by Autumn Dominguez

"Sunflower Seeds" debuts next week.

Dominguez is throwing a release party at the Hotel Congress Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

The Hotel Congress would normally host jazz performers inside its Century Room mezcal lounge. However, it's planned for outside on the plaza due to the expected audience size.

Tickets range from $10 to $15, and are available for purchase at

RELATED: The Century Room - Tucson's only jazz club opens its doors

Caleb Fernández is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State in Advertising/Public Relations, Caleb went to New York where he learned production assistance, photography and art direction. Share your story ideas and important issues with Caleb by emailing or by connecting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.