It’s always worth noting nationally known players who have a Colorado connection. This week, for example, pianist Rob Mullins, who landed in Denver with his family when he was 14 year old, after they migrated from Oklahoma to California, is back in town. Joined by saxophonist Joe Anderies, drummer Russell Bizzett and bassist Bijoux Barbosa, Mullins, visits the new Dazzle spot on Saturday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. (303-839-5100).
Saxophonist Anderies has ties to the pianist that go back a long way, while San Diego-based drummer Bizzett has rock ties to folks such as Tommy Bolin and Jose Feliciano along with studying with Roy Haynes and Billy Higgins. The Brazilian-born bassist Barbosa rounds out the quartet that should reflect Mullins’ blend of straight ahead and crossover sounds.
Because “Father’s Day” is on June 18 and “Juneteenth” is on June 19, you might think of pianist Purnell Steen’s Dazzle stop on Friday (June 16) as a double holiday treat. “Juneteenth” marks the day that Union troops landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war and slavery were over (though, of course, the Emancipation Proclamation theoretically took effect two-and-a-half-years earlier). It thus marks the oldest known celebration commemorating the long-awaited end of slavery in America. Steen has a septet version of his Le Jazz Machine group (with singer Myra Warren and young saxophonist Rico Jones). The pianist’s sets are at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
Moving to something different, Dazzle also offers a special “Guitar Summit” on Wednesday from 6 until 10:30 p.m. At different points the summit will feature various guitarists drawn from very strong pool of players who just might like to string you along. They are: Khabu Young; Janet Feder: Glenn Taylor; Dave Corbus; Jon Ridnell (Black Dog); Dan Schwindt (Schwinty Rock); and Alex Heffron. Bassists Ken Walker and Bill McCrossen and drummer B.K. Khan provide the rhythm section. The guitarists will be on multiple stages in the new spot on Curtis.
Also at Dazzle, Ghanaian drummer/singer Paa Kow has a large group (that includes trumpeter Brad Goode) is on stage on Thursday at 7 p.m. and the Denver Jazz Orchestra is there on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Traveling up to Louisville, the city’ street fair has the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the downtown Steinbrugh Pavilion (824 Front St) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday The event is free. And so is City Park Jazz. On Sunday at 6 p.m., the concert in the park features singer Linda Styles.
As noted in last week’s column, the June issue of DownBeat contains the jazz magazine’s “40th Annual Student Music Awards.” There is a number of Colorado groups and individuals who received recognition along with the faculty member connected to the group or individual). The Jazz Workshop Orchestra at the Denver School of the Arts (Dave Hammond) won the big band category for high schools for the performing arts and the Lamont Small Jazz Group l at the University of Denver (Steve Weist and Eric Gunnison) captured the winning spot for graduate schools. The Jazz Ensemble I at the University of Northern Colorado (Dana Landry) won in the graduate school big band category, the Northern Colorado Voices at UNC (Kerry Marsh) came out on top in the large jazz vocal ensemble category and Colton Sparks from DU (Michael Schulze) won for best engineered studio recording at the college level.
Additionally, a number of awards for outstanding performances came Colorado’s way. Those awards went to: Quincy Avenue Rhythm Band; the Vocal Jazz Messengers at DU; the Vocal Lab at UNC; and Mike Conrad of UNC for graduate school for original composition.
On top of all that, the magazine’s “Jazz Education Achievement Award” went to Howard Stone the man behind the Vail Jazz Festival (that started in 1995) and the student Vail Jazz Workshop (that has alumni on the order of Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Tina Fuller, Obed Calvaire and Grace Kelley). You can hear what the workshop helped accomplish when Akinmusire brings his quartet to Dazzle on June 22.
Student recognition, beyond the Downbeat awards, also goes to bassist Gabriel Ripe of the Denver School for the Arts for being selected to be part of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2017 Next Generation Jazz Band. No mean feat.
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