Whether you are in Paris, St. Petersburg (the 2018 host city of International Jazz Day), Sydney (the 2019 host city for International Jazz Day) or Denver, April is the month to appreciate America’s great cultural contribution to the world. This past week, at the start of the month, you could have done just that here from listening to the 16-year old pianist/Hammond B-3 player Matthew Ridgeway to tuning your ears to the classic sound of 89-year old tenor saxophonist/composer Benny Golson. And you can continue doing just that this week as well in the company of a number of outstanding players coming to town, including the youngest of Philly’s Heath brothers, drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, tenor saxophone powerhouse Eric Alexander, potent Memphis-raised pianist Harold Mabern, drummer Adam Nussbaum, or at a tribute to the majestic sound of bassist/composer Charles Mingus.
You can kick things off with drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, who is at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, with his trio on Saturday. Born in 1935, Heath left Philly for New York in 1957 and before long recorded on his first album, an outing by another player with a Philly connection – John Coltrane. Over the decades that followed, Heath would play with a giant-sized list of noted jazzmen. Including his brothers in the band simply called the Heath Brothers. His trio mates are the fine pianist Emmet Cohen (who has always delivered every time he has been in town) and the strong, Jamaican bassist Russell Hall. The sets are at 6:30 and 9 p.m. (303-839-5100).
Also at Dazzle this week, saxophonist Eric Alexander, who has been recording like crazy since he captured the second spot in the 1991 Thelonious Monk saxophone competition won by Joshua Redman, and with Memphis-born pianist Harold Mabern they'll lead a quartet at Dazzle on Tuesday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. with band regulars John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. That group can be heard on a number of discs from HighNote and Smoke Record labels. Mabern and Alexander make for a potent combo.
Outside of Dazzle, drummer Adam Nussbaum (who has been with John Scofield, Gil Evans, Carla Bley, Michael Brecker and John Abercrombie to name but a few) is at Nocturne, 1330 27th St., also on Tuesday with an area-based quartet of players starting at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333). And on Sunday, the “Blind Tiger” series from the Gift of Jazz offers a tribute to Charles Mingus at the Colorado Auto Dealers Association, 290 E. Speer, with bassist Matt Smiley’s quartet with Tom Gershwin on trumpet starting at 3 p.m. with food included (giftofjazz.org). Nocturne also has a Billie Holiday birthday celebration with singer Crystal Collins on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Among the other performances you can find at Dazzle, there’s the University of Wyoming Jazz Ensemble on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Gypsy Jazz Jam on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., cellist Jim Bailey and guitarist Alfredo Muro on Friday at 6:30 p.m., guitarist Dave Devine and singer Tania Katz on Friday at 9 p.m., and singer Joanna Wallfisch out of London with pianist Annie Booth on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Booth with singer Max Wellman at 5:30 and 8 p.m. on Sunday. And at Treppeda’s in Niwot, 300 2nd Ave., bassist Paul Warburton and pianist Art Lande hook up on Saturday (303-652-1606).
Then on Monday, trumpeter Ron Miles adds commentary to the IMAX film, America’s Musical Journey, at the Museum of Nature and Science (dmns.org). In addition to being an amazing player, Miles heads the jazz program at MSU Denver (a.k.a. Metro State). Lastly, there’s a community meeting for the May 19th Five Points Jazz Festival at the Blair-Caldwell Library, 2401, on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Speaking of the library, Charleszine “Terry” Nelson was selected as Denver’s 2018 Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalist’s Association. The award to Nelson will be presented at the Five Points Jazz Festival, Saturday May, 19.
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