The Labor Day weekend is at hand. And in Colorado that means it’s time for another Jazz Party. Launched by Dick Gibson in 1963, there’s been a Jazz Party in the state for more than a half-century, with only a short break when the Gibson event (that started in Aspen and moved through Vail, Colorado Springs and Denver) ended and a revived and revised Jazz Party emerged in Vail guided by Howard Stone. The 23rd edition of the Vail Jazz Party takes place this weekend starting with a Thursday night kickoff at Lionshead in Vail Square at 6 p.m. featuring two groups of students (past and present) from the Party’s educational program along with the events house band made up John and Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Lewis Nash and Bill Cunliffe.
On Friday through Monday, the Party’s evening activities are at Vail’s Marriott Mountain Resort, while the daytime sounds are at the Jazz tent in Lionshead in Vail Square. In addition the regular house band, drummer Tommy Igoe leads a sextet, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon heads his New Funk Machine, Niki Haris conducts a Gospel Prayer Meeting and the H2 Big Band provides the big band sound.
There are 16 soloists on tap that in a variety of mix-and-match settings during the festivities, including trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonist Dick Oatts, clarinetist Ken Peplowski (who packed Nocturne in Denver on the Wednesday prior to the Party) and drummers Jeff Hamilton and Butch Miles.
A signature activity of the Vail Party is the special packages presented. Over this weekend, there is a screening of Buddy Rich documentary with a Q and A with drummer Hamilton, Jeff Clayton’s tribute to Cannonball Adderley, drummer Igoe’s tribute to Mongo Santamaria, Hamilton and Miles’ multimedia tribute to Buddy Rich with the H2 Big Band and trumpeter Stripling’s multimedia exploration of Cole Porter.
Running from August 31 through September 4, the Vail Jazz Party is truly a jazz event and not a jazz festival in name only (vailjazz.org).
On Tuesday, in the wake of the Vail event, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon will make it down from the mountains to Denver for a two-night stand at the new Dazzle, 1512 Curtis St. (303-839-5100). Gordon, who is clearly among the top trombonists in the music, is on stage on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. with area-based rhythm section made up of pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Bill McCrossen and drummer Dru Heller.
In addition to Gordon, drummer Hamilton will also hit Denver after the Vail Party with a organ trio that has Akiko Tsuruga (who has been a regular on the New York scene since her arrival there in 2001) on Hammond B-3 and Graham Dechter on guitar on September 6 and 7 at Nocturne at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333). Like Hamilton, guitarist Dechter has recorded for Colorado’s Capri Records, a strong independent label headed by Tom Burns.
Back to this week, the outstanding guitarist Russell Malone is also in town with his group that has Rick Germanson on piano, Luke Sellick on bass and Wille Jones III on drums. That’s the band from Malone’s recent CD on HighNote titled Time for Dancers. They are at Dazzle on Friday night at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
Dazzle also has the Keith Oxman Quartet on Thursday at 6 and 8:30 p.m., the Austin Young Band on Saturday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. and singer/songwriter Josephine Foster on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. presented by the Music Appreciation Society. Thursday also finds the gypsy jazz group La Pompe Jazz with guest drummer Jill Fredericksen at the Mercury Café, 2199 California, at 8 p.m. (303-294-9258). On that same night, a free Latin music night at the new Levitt Pavilion in Ruby Hill Park at 6:30 p.m. with Inspector and iZCalli.
Lastly, September brings a new lineup of artists in residence at Nocturne. That lineup is: pianist Peter Stolzman and the Coexistence Trio on Tuesdays; the Jungle Double Drummers’ Series with pianist Tom Amend on Wednesdays; guitarist Ryan Fourt’s Quartet doing Smokin at the Half Note on Thursdays; Echoverse (with Tania Katz, Dave Devine, Shawn King and Julia Mendiolea) on Fridays; and Drew Morell’s Jazzy Boogaloos on Saturdays. The lineup runs for a number of months though there are some changes during specific weeks.
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