Provizer's Jazz Notes
9:54 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Neal Cassady's Birthday Bash (and more!)

Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac
Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac

Guitarist Peter Bernstein kicks off the week in music on Thursday when he hits town to hook up with the Convergence sextet at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 7 and 9 p.m. Born in New York, Bernstein found a potent mentor in the great Jim Hall. Before long, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson added Bernstein to his group; and, over the years, the fluent guitarist, who was born in 1967, worked with a host of strong players, while producing a string of discs under his own name.

More recently, Bernstein joined the quintet led by the saxophone giant Sonny Rollins. So, Convergence’s saxophonist John Gunther might want to pull out some Sonny lines to make Bernstein feel at home. Among, the people with whom Bernstein has had an ongoing musical relationship, you can find the imposing pianist Brad Mehldau. In fact, just a few days after Bernstein’s two-night stand at Dazzle that ends on Friday, he and Mehldau are in New York doing a duo thing at Smoke. And on April 6, Mehldau, himself, is in the area, performing at the Boulder Theater with his trio.

A number of impressive players have performed as guests with the finely tuned Convergence sextet. Bernstein is a most worthy addition to that list ($20/$12 for students on Thursday, 303-839-5100).

Friday also finds the unique multi-instrumentalist David Amram in town to pull some daisies and play some music to mark the birthday of one of the most famous characters connected to Denver – Neal Cassady. An icon of the beat era, Cassady served as the model for Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road along with much, much more.

Born in Utah on February 8, 1926, Cassady grew up in Denver and spent some time at East High School. An ever-attractive bad boy, Cassady died just days before his 42nd birthday – and this fifth birthday bash at the Mercury Café, 2199 California, is just the right way to celebrate his life. In addition to Amram and his quartet the musical highlights of the night also include the soaring saxophonist Richie Cole and percussionist Janine Santana. The bash runs from 8 until 10 p.m. ($20/$25 at the door, 303-294-9258).

On Saturday, it’s crossover saxophonist Gerald Albright on stage at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401E. 1st Ave., at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Albright, who has always had a foot in R&B, is an extremely popular crossover player who has serious chops as well ($30-$35, 303-830-9214).

Also on Saturday, crossovers continue when the talented arranger/saxophonist Wil Swindler turns his Elevenet loose on the music of the non-pop divas Bjork (born in Reykjavik, Iceland) and Regina Spektor (born in Moscow, Russia). Both Bjork and Spektor have made their name with eclectic music that has popularity without ever traveling the straight mainstream pop path. The Elevenet plays at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15/$10 students).

On Sunday, trumpeter Jason Klobnak brings a quintet to Dazzle with Eric Gunnison on piano. Klobnak puts on his Mountain Move at 7 p.m. ($12). On Monday, Dazzle has the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra together with the band from Regis High School at 7 p.m. ($15). And on Tuesday, a quintet called Disquietude made up of students from the music programs at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado puts some contemporary spin on the music at Dazzle at 7 p.m. ($10/$5 students). Then, on Wednesday, groups from the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts are at Dazzle at 7 pm. ($10/$5).

Normanprovizer@aol.com