February is Full of Music - Provizer's Jazz Notes

Jan 31, 2014

Adam Bartczak's Republic, at Dazzle on 1/30

Provizer's Jazz Notes, 1-30-14

           While February remains short on days, that month this year is very long when it comes to music. So, before we get to this week’s events, here are some items to keep in mind to plan out your calendar for the coming three weeks. On February 6-7, guitarist Peter Bernstein comes to town to perform with Convergence at Dazzle. On February 7 you can get on the road with David Amram at the Neal birthday bash at the Mercury Café. Then on February 8, it’s crossover saxophonist Gerald Albright at the Soiled Dove Underground.

          The next week, on February 15-16, drummer Brain Blade brings his terrific Fellowship Band back to Dazzle. Two days later on February 18, the strong Brazilian-born pianist and singer Eliane Elias begins a two-night stand at Dazzle, followed immediately by an appearance of trumpeter Nicholas Payton at Dazzle on February 20-21. The next night, February 22, finds crossover pianist Alex Bugnon at the Soiled Dove Underground, while saxophonist Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe brings the groove to the Boulder Theater for a Ray Charles dance party and the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (with Dave’s sons Chris and Dan) is at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

          Then, to wrap up the month, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is at the Boulder Theater on February 27, while saxophonist Bobby Watson brings his monster Horizon group to the Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden also on February 27.

          Back to this week, the 50th annual Mile High JazzFest continues Thursday and Friday at the Ralston Valley High School, 13355 W. 80th Ave in Arvada. There are almost 60 high-school groups participating in the event that features concerts by the University of Colorado’s Jazz I Band with guest Denis DiBlasio at noon on both days. Singer Laura Kinhan, who is part of New York Voices as well as doing her own thing, is also in town this week, performing at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave., on Wednesday at 8 pm. ($18-$22, 303-830-9214). Earlier in the musical week, Friday finds the crossover band Special EFX, with guitarist Chieli Minucci is also at the Dove at 8 p.m. ($20-$25).

          On Thursday, the 20-piece Adam Bartczak Republic big band, with a host of fine, area-based players is at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 7 and 9 p.m. ($10, 303-839-5100). The big band put out its first CD, The Grass is Greener, on the Dazzle label.

          Friday has bassist Ken Walker’s sextet for a regular date at Dazzle at 7 and 9 p.m. ($12/$8 students for the 9 p.m. set), followed on Saturday at Dazzle by saxophonist Keith Oxman’s quartet at 7 and 9 p.m. paying tribute to Sonny Stitt ($15/$8 students for the 9 p.m. set).

          On Sunday, the What’s Cookin’ small big band is at Jazz at Jack’s, 500 16th St., at 5p.m. (303-433-1000); and on Monday at 7 p.m., the 10 member Koffi Togo and 2GVibe is at Dazzle for a fundraiser to support the Koffi Togo Cultural Center in Togo ($15/$10 students). Tuesday brings another in the popular classical nights at Dazzle with R. Andrew Lee playing the music of Satie at 7 p.m. The proof of its popularity is that the show is sold out.

          On Saturday, singer Linda Wisler is in town with a quartet to perform at the Caffe Sole, 637 R S. Broadway in Boulder, while a jazz combo from East High School directed by saxophonist Oxman is at Dazzle on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ($8/$5 students).

          Further, you can find a variety of musical sounds on stage at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. First, of course, is the return of Mama Mia to the Buell Theater for a short run that ends on Sunday. No one would confuse the music of Abba with the Great American Songbook. But the tunes from the Swedish group, with all the right hooks, are extremely well suited for the Broadway musical format. The formula of feel-good songs for a feel-good story and strong singing makes for one highly entertaining night whether or not you think of yourself as a “Dancing Queen” {303-893-4100).

          But beyond the obvious, there are two added plays at smaller theaters in the complex that have significant, though very different, musical components – The Legend of Georgia McBride that runs through February 23 in the DCPA’s Ricketson Theater and Black Odyssey that continues at the Space Theater at the DCPA until February 16.

          The Legend is a funny and heartfelt story of an unsuccessful Elvis impersonator who stumbles into becoming a popular drag, dancing queen though he is straight and married – and the music utilized is pretty much what you might expect. It’s a lot of fun in a definite good time, party sort of way.

         Black Odyssey is a different type of tale, with different music, that tells, in an extremely compelling manner, the story of an African-American soldier on a difficult journey to return home from war that involves a battle between the gods of ancient Greece. Homer would be proud with what playwright Marcus Gardley has created here.