By now most jazz fans know that the National Endowment for the Arts 2018 Jazz Master are: guitarist Pat Metheny; pianist Joanne Brackeen; club owner/producer Todd Barkan; and Denver’s own Dianne Reeves. The tribute concert for the 2018 Jazz Masters occurs on April 16 from the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC and will be streamed live. Of course you don’t have to wait to hear a NEA Jazz Master because on Friday and Saturday, Dr. Lonnie Smith is in town at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis.
The Hammond B-3 master received his recognition from the National Endowment of the Arts in 2017 (along with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dave Holland, Dick Hyman and writer Ira Gitler) and he ill have his trio in tow that features Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar. While Kreisberg, who has a number if discs out as a leader, has been a regular with Smith for a while, the drummer with the organ Dr. at Dazzle is Denver’s Paul Romaine. That should make for an interesting pairing.
Born in Buffalo,NY, Smith connected with players such as Lou Donaldson, Jack McDuff and George Benson upstate and joined Benson’s band. In New York, Smith recorded his first date for Columbia Records, the aptly title soul organ outing Finger Lickin’ Good. He also recorded with saxophonist Donaldson on Blue Note and ended up doing a series of albums for the noted jazz label with whom he reunited for his current CD Evolution (not to be confused with the 1963 album on Blue Note by trombonist Grachan Moncur III). The self-described Dr. is never less than a trip to hear and his trio is on stage at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (303-839-5100).
In addition to Smith, this week also offers guitarist/vocalist James Blood Ulmer on Wednesday (and March 8) at Dazzle at 8 p.m. each evening. The South Carolinian connected with organ trios in Pittsburgh. After a time in Detroit, he landed in New York and put in a short time as one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He also was the guest artist on two of Hammond B-3 man "Big" John Patton’s 1970 releases on Blue Note (Accent on the Blues and Memphis to New York Spirit).
In New York, Ulmer began his association with Ornette Coleman and Ornette’s “harmolodic theory” that led to the recording of Tales of Captain Black in 1978 (that included Coleman). He also recorded several albums on Columbia. Ulmer manages to mix deep blues with both progressive rock and avant-garde sentiments. It’s not your run-of-the-mill combination. Ulmer’s earlier scheduled visits to Dazzle had to be cancelled. So this is a long awaited treat. You can catch his solo/blues performance on his 2004 disc Birthright and at Dazzle on Wednesday and March 8. Listening to Ulmer, you can always ask: Are You Glad to Be in America?
On Friday you can also catch the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra (CJRO) led by Art Bouton at PACE (the Parker Arts Center), 20000 Pikes Peak Ave. in Parker at 7:30 p.m. The big band takes a peak at the sounds of Duke Ellington and more (303-805-6800). Friday also finds saxophonist Brian Horton at Nocturne, 1330 27th St. Horton, who teaches at University of Northern Colorado, has worked with drummer Winard Harper. Another group doing a residency at Nocturne is one paying tribute to saxophonist Eddie Harris that has Dave Corbus on guitar and Keith Oxman on saxophone. On Tuesday, Nocturne has guitarist Sean McGowan celebrating Wes Montgomery’s birthday (the great guitarist was born on March 6, 1923). The sets at Nocturne begin at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333).
Back at Dazzle, the Coexistence Trio plays at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday after the CU piano trios play at 6 p.m. And on Sunday, the feminist folk trio, The Malvinas (named for a person but also the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands) does a Denver Eclectic Concert at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, on Friday at 11:15 a.m., violinist Christian Howes and pianist Reggie Berg are live at KUVO Jazz (89.3 FM) or kuvo.org
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