Summer's Series of Majestic Music Continues | Norman Provizer's Jazz Notes

Sep 7, 2017

Carmen Sandim
Credit KUVO Jazz

During the late 1990s, Jazz Aspen Snowmass partnered with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to create a Jazz Colony that blended great players with a select group of student artists in residence. And every time I look at the list of student artists that stayed at the Jazz Colony, I continue to be amazed. To give you an idea of the young talent that appeared in Snowmass, that group included pianists Jason Moran, Orrin Evans, Helen Sung and Amina Figarova, along with saxophonists Eli Degibri, Wayne Escoffrey, Jaleel Shaw, Jon Ellis and Walter Smith and so many others.

It was at the 1999 edition of Jazz Colony that I first heard trumpeter Avishai Cohen who had just graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Cohen, born in Israel, has gone to establish a strong name in the music with a string of discs on the ECM label. He is also, along with his siblings, clarinetist Anat Cohen and saxophonist Yuval Cohen, part of the group – you guessed it – the Three Cohens.

On the trumpeter’s new ECM CD, Cross My Palm with Silver, he is in the company of two Israelis, pianist Yonathan Avishai on piano and Barak Mori on bass, and drummer Nasheet Waits. When he hits Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, on Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s Israeli pianist Gadhi Lehavi (who has worked with Ravi Coltrane), drummer Marcus Gilmore who join bassist Mori to make up the trumpeter’s quartet. Cohen can have an attractive edge to his playing and this is a very attractive band. On Tuesday, the group is on stage at 7 p.m. and the sets on Wednesday are at 6 and 8:30 p.m. (303-839-5100).

If Avishai (remember that’s the trumpeter not the bassist) brings the week in music to a close in real style, the week also begins that way with drummer Jeff Hamilton’s organ trio featuring Akiko Tsuruga on Hammond B-3 and Graham Dechter on guitar. Hamilton, who is a frequent performer at the Vail Jazz Party and a co-leader of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra that got started in L.A. back in 1984.

Hamilton is a first-rate drummer in any context and this organ-trio one (that did appear in Vail over Labor Day) should be a trip. If you hear it, you’ll be glad the trio is making a stop in Denver as well. On an added note, both Hamilton and Dechter have been recording for Tom Burns’ Capri Record label housed in Bailey, Colorado.

Also on Thursday, Colorado trumpeter and now Brooklyn resident Kenny Warren brings his somewhat out-of-the-box style (after all, he was a member of the band Slavic Soul Party) back to Colorado with a trio that includes Dave Devine and Shane Endsley (who, by the way, was, with his trumpet in hand, part of the Snowmass student Jazz Colony in 1996). 

Switching gears, the 2017 edition of the Denver Biennial of the Americas is up and running. As part of that celebration of the culture of the Americas, percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his group pull into the Newman Center at the University of Denver, 2344 E. Iliff, on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (303-871-7720). In 2000, Martinez, who came to America from Cuba, won the Thelonious Monk Institute’s international hand-drumming competition. It’s a blast of Latin jazz sounds from the Caribbean without all the wind and rain. Speaking of that, remember that Poncho Sanchez is one of headliners (along with guitarist Dave Stryker) for the upcoming Jazz on 2nd Ave. event in Niwot on September 16.

Friday offers a trio of things at Dazzle beginning with singer Myra Warren and pianist/singer Ellyn Rucker at 6 p.m., followed by pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist Bijoux Barbosa and drummer Mike Marlier mixing a little Mayhem sound with the music of Chick Corea at 7:30 p.m. Then at 9 p.m., the genre-jumping group Purple Squirrel takes the stage. On Saturday, Dazzle has dancing with the Denver Jazz Orchestra at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Come Sunday, the indie rock/jazz of Analogue Hero is up at 8 p.m. at Dazzle; and on Monday, pianist Carmen Sandim is at King Center on the Auraria campus with her group at 7:30 p.m. (303-556-2296).

Over at Nocturne, 1330 27th St., in addition to the spot’s artist-in-residence series, there are late night weekend sounds (11-12:30) from guitarist Tim Wendel’s Trio on Friday and the Matt Skellenger-Matt Reid Duo on Saturday (303-295-3333).

On a final note: There is a lot of jazz in Newman Center’s coming season. From November to May 2018, Gregory Porter, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Tierney Sutton, drummer Antonio Sanchez and trumpeter Terence Blanchard will be taking the stage at the Center on the University of Denver campus.

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Pedrito Martinez