Denver's Jazz Music Menu Is Hotter Than July | Norman Provizer's Jazz Notes

Jul 13, 2017

Herbie Hancock
Credit All About Jazz

Manuel Valera came to the USA  from Cuba as a saxophonist. But once in the US, Valera turned to the piano full time as a student at New York University. Beginning with his debut release in 2004, Forma Nueva, Valera established an attractive blend of Latin styles and post-bop jazz in his music with several different bands. At Dazzle on Thursday, he is in town with one of them – a trio that has Hans Glawischnig on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums.

After his stint at Berklee College of Music, the Austrian-born Glawischnig emerged as one of the first call bassists in the Big Apple and has performed with folks from Bobby Watson (who, by the way, is the featured artist at KUVO’s “Live at the Vineyards” event on Aug. 12) to Ray Barretto with a whole host of names in between. Strickland, who rounds out the rhythm section (and is the twin brother of saxophonist Marcus Strickland), also has a long list of playing credentials as well. Valera’s trio is the group on the pianist’s recent CD, The Seasons. At Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, on Thursday, you can hear the band at 6 and 8:30 p.m. (303-839-5100). The pianist will also perform at KUVO on Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. in the station’s performance studio. 

Sticking with Dazzle for a moment, the club in its new, downtown location also has one of the great guitar players on stage on Saturday (at 6:30 and 9 p.m.) and Sunday (at 5:30 and 8 p.m. That player is Pat Martino and he has his trio with Pat Bianchi on Hammond B-3 and Carmen Intorre on drums. A native of Philly, Martino first cut his jazz chops in a band led by Charles Earland, who was as high-school mate. On the pop side, you could also find him with Lloyd Price on “Stagger Lee.”

When he was 20, Martino signed with Prestige Records. But due to number of circumstances, including a serious illness, Martino’s career in the public eye has had roller coaster lows as well as highs. The last time I heard this trio was at the much missed Mount Vernon Country Club jazz series and it is special. Bianchi, who spent years living here in Denver, has been a fast rising star on the Hammond B-3 scene and it’s always great having him back.

Another noted player who spent time in the Denver/Boulder area is pianist/singer Henry Butler. The great New Orleans piano professor and vocalist ended up here after Katrina destroyed much of the Crescent City and still has ties to the area. Following a great idea, Butler connected with trumpeter Steven Bernstein plus The Hot 9 to form one unique band. And that group will be at Vail Square as part of the Vail Festival summer series on Thursday at 6 p.m. (vailjazz.org). The group (that is filled with super players) will then continue on Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ JAS Café series to play at the Aspen Art Museum at 7 and 9:15 p.m. (jazzaspensnowmass.org), 

This week also offers the Winter Park Jazz Festival, a highly pop-flavored event on Saturday and Sunday in Winter Park’s Hideaway Park. The festivities start at 11 a.m. with performers such as Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, Brian Culbertson, Selina Albright and Pieces of a Dream. Tickets are scarce for the 35th edition of this event (playwinterpark.com). Additionally, on Saturday, you can settle in at the 19th annual Longmont Jazz Festival in Longmont’s Roosevelt Park. The free event has begins at 11 a.m. with the Longmont Jazz All Stars and concludes at 7:15 p.m. when Mistura Fina ends its set. In between, you can find Expresso, guitarist Wayne Wilkinson, After Midnight, the 101st Army Dixieland Band and pianist Adam Bodine. And coming up on July 28-30, there’s he Evergreen Jazz Festival (evergreenjazz.org) that we will detail next week.

On top of all this, singer MaryLynn Gillaspie (with fellow vocalists Janine Gastineau, Terri Jo Jenkins and John Bertram) is at Caffe Sole , 637 S. Broadway in Boulder, on Friday at 7 p.m. with a group called the Quirktett (303-499-2985). On Saturday at the Caffe Sole, saxophonist Rico Jones leads a group with Brad Goode on trumpet at 7 p.m.

On Friday, now-drummer Claire Church has a trio celebrating Bastille Day at La Cour Art Bistro and Jazz Bar, 1643 S. Broadway, at 7 p.m. (303-303-777-5000); while Paul Musso does the late night set at Nocturne, 1330 27th St., that same evening. Sean McGowan does the l0:30 p.m. late night set at Nocturne on Saturday, 1330 27th St. (303-295-3333).

Back to Dazzle at Baur’s, pianist Purnell Steen and his Le Jazz Machine celebrate “Summer Madness” at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday and a band with singer Jan Cleveland called Game Jazz celebrates the great American composers on Friday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. And on Tuesday, Dazzle celebrates the past with a night of free music (with the Denver Municipal Band) and ice cream. Tuesday also has the modern blues master Robert Cray at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth in Arvada at 7:30 p.m. (720-898-7200). Sunday, of course, offers the free sounds of City Park Jazz. This week in the Park, it’s Judge Roughnek laying down the groove on stage at 6 p.m.

Last and certainly not least, on August 14 and 15, the Denver Botanic Gardens summer music series knocks it out of the jazz park with Herbie Hancok (on the 14th) and Chick Corea’s Elektric Band plus Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (on the 15th). Think of it as a mini jazz festival in the Gardens, but one that is sold out. You can keep checking about tickets. 

Comments and submissions: normanprovizer@aol.com

Chick Corea
Credit Berklee City Music