Best of Phoenix

Best of Phoenix 2018: Blaise Lantana's Favorite Local Spots

Best of Phoenix 2018: Blaise Lantana's Favorite Local Spots
Carrie Wheeler
Carrie Wheeler
“It’s quite a ways from where I live,” jazz singer and KJZZ host Blaise Lantana says of the Musical Instrument Museum, “but it’s always worth the drive. The acoustics in the performance space are great for a small ensemble, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.” The gift shop, says Lantana, is always fun. “I have all these music-themed scarves and jewelry and little instruments,” she confesses. “And I can’t stay out of the MIM cafe — it’s got tasty and unique food.”

Lantana, who’s been music director at the NPR member station for 23 years, works off her MIM meals at Kiwanis Park. “When it’s cool out, I walk along the lake and listen to all the music, from hip-hop to Vietnamese music made by the people fishing or coming from a quinceañera in the park.”

Relaxing after a gig is important, and Lantana swears by True Rest Float Spa. “I go for a magnesium salt water soak in an isolation pod. It’s not like the ’70s, when I would drop some LSD before soaking, but it’s still a different experience every time I go. The magnesium in the salt is good for your heart and for healing.”

So is a good performance at Mesa Arts Center, she says. “It’s my favorite place to hear music. I interviewed Chick Corea and Gary Burton there, and in the small hall I introduced Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, and Billy Cobham, then got to hear their shows.”

Lantana loves the Valley, far and wide, but her favorite place of all is in her own backyard. Literally. “I get off work late, so usually there’s nowhere to go. Once I’m home, I like to go out back, lie in my hammock, and look at the sky. Sometimes there are stars, sometimes clouds. I stay just long enough to remember where I am, and to listen to the breath of the night.”

Kiwanis Park (Mill Avenue and All America Way) has all these wonderful trails. They go east all the way to Mesa somewhere. It’s a great bike ride.

• I love the Musical Instrument Museum (4725 East Mayo Boulevard, 480-478-6000) for music and lunch and to wander around and play on some of the instruments.

Pita Jungle at Dobson and Ray roads (1949 West Ray Road, Chandler, 480-855-3232) hosts a jazz jam every Thursday, and I’m always doing everything I can to finish work early so I can get there.

• Mesa Arts Center (1 East Main Street, Mesa, 480-640-6500) is the most comfortable place for me. I just love seeing shows there. The sound is great and the seats are comfy.

• I usually go to the True Rest Float Spa (1860 East Warner Road, 480-389-0853) in Tempe, but I’ve gone to Chandler and Gilbert too. Who knew Epsom salts could be so relaxing?
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela