"Jazz showers all over the place"

Apr 3, 2014

Kneebody, at Dazzle on Monday, April 7
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has designated April as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). And in Colorado, the month begins with jazz showers all over the place. Beginning on Thursday and running through Saturday, there’s the 11th annual Weekend of Jazz hosted by guitarist Earl Klugh at the Broadmoor, 1 Lake Ave., in Colorado Springs. Klugh’s weekend draws a huge crowd to the Broadmoor that, itself, is about as top-shelf a venue imaginable. 

On Friday night, the event features the fastest rising vocalist on the jazz scene, Gregory Porter, along with a “Night of Guitars” from Klugh, Chuck Loeb and Jonathan Butler. For Saturday night, the lineup has crossover saxophonist Dave Koz and pianist David Benoit. Soul singer Oleta Adams is also part of the festivities. The shows are at 8 p.m. ($109 for both nights, 719-577-5733, the hotel packages are sold out). 

Travelling in a different direction, Thursday offers the very popular trumpeter Chris Botti at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Ln., in Beaver Creek at 7:30 p.m. for an event connected to the Vail Jazz Foundation ($40-$98, 970-845-8497). Botti has serious jazz chops to go along with his popular sound and has first-rate players in his group. The group that has been working with him of late has long-time drummer Billy Kilson, bassist Richie Goods, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo and pianist Taylor Eigsti along with others. Following the stop in Beaver Creek, Botti moves to Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Friday for a concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. ($29-$100, 303-623-7876). 

Thursday also finds New York-based drummer Matt Slocum in Denver at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, with his quartet that has Sam Yahel on piano, Dayna Stephens on tenor saxophone and Massimo Biolcati on bass. All of these players have strong playing credits from Kenny Barron and Terence Blanchard to Bill Frisell . In addition to doing his own music, Slocum has worked with a host of people including Taylor Eigsti. The sets to celebrate the release of the CD Black Elk’s Dream are at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15/$10 for students at 9 p.m., 303-839-5100). On Friday, Dazzle begins three nights of vocals beginning with singer Julia Dollison, presented by drummer Paul Romaine, at 7 and 9 p.m. ($12/$8 students at 9 p.m.). Dollison and Vertical Voices have done the music of Maria Schneider and now a CD titled Fourward. She is at Dazzle with Romaine, Steve Kovalcheck, Annie Booth, Mark Simon and fellow vocalist/husband Kerry Marsh. 

Then, on Saturday, singer Rene Marie returns to her old home base of Denver for a two night-night run at Dazzle. Marie is, to put it simply, is one of the most original and musically dynamic vocalists around. She is an elemental force of nature on stage supported by her superb trio made up of Kevin Bales, Elias Bailey and Quentin Baxter.  Marie’s latest CD, on Motema, is her tribute to Eartha Kitt, I Wanna Be Evil. Her Saturday sets are at 7 and 9 p.m. On Sunday, the sets are at 6 and 8 p.m. ($26/$12 for students on Sunday at 8 p.m.). The 7 p.m. show on Saturday is sold out. 

Sunday also offers the terrific pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio (with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard) on stage in Boulder at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., at 8 p.m. ($20/$25, 303-786-7030). This is a group to hear.

After the weekend ends, the music keeps on coming. On Monday the genre-jumping and extremely engaging group Kneebody is at Dazzle at 7 and 9 p.m. ($20/$12 students at 9 p.m.). Kneebody has worked its way up the list of nationally recognized groups in jazz and has its Colorado connections. Trumpeter Shane Endsley grew up in Denver and is one of three former Denverites on list of top rising-star trumpeters in the current DownBeat “Critics Poll.” (The others are Kirk Knuffke and Nate Wooley.) Kaveh Rastegar, Kneebody’s bassist, spent time in Boulder, while the other members of the group are pianist Adam Benjamin, drummer Nate Wood and saxophonist Ben Wendel (who has also worked with drummer Matt Slocum). The fact that the band is playing two sets on a Monday night tells you something.

The week winds up on Wednesday with another impressive player coming to town. That’s pianist Helen Sung, who is now on Concord Records and is one of three imposing pianists who graduated from Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts. (The others on this list are Jason Moran and Robert Glasper.]) Sung is at Jazz at Jack’s, 500 16th St. on the mall, at 8:30 p.m., as part of the North Coast Party featuring Brother Thelonious Craft Beer (303-433-1000). Trumpeter Ron Miles is joining Sung for the party.

Wednesday also has the CWA Super Jam at the Boulder Theater at 7:30 p.m. Pianist Henry Butler, saxophonist Ernie Andrews, singer Lillian Boutte and others are part of the jam drawn from CU Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs event ($10). That same night, the University of Wyoming Jazz Ensemble performs at Dazzle at 7 p.m. ($15, sold out).