The Philosophy of Urso

No other jazz player in Denver has Phil Urso's pedigree.

Urso shrugs off whatever the locals may think of him. "There aren't many good players. The rest of them are all garbage. They don't play up to a level I'm used to hearing. They're all jealous of me because I can play and because of who I've played with. I'm not braggin' or anything, but I can back it up.

"Only now I can't."

A couple of weeks ago, Urso got new dentures, and while he still feels some discomfort, he says he's starting to play again. His musical career is done, he says, if these dentures don't turn out to be the right pair. He dreams of implants, but they are too expensive.

Pain, and gain: Since he's lost his teeth, Phil Urso has had to learn to play all over again.
John Johnston
Pain, and gain: Since he's lost his teeth, Phil Urso has had to learn to play all over again.
The music was flowing: Phil Urso is in the lower right corner on the cover of this Chet Baker album.
The music was flowing: Phil Urso is in the lower right corner on the cover of this Chet Baker album.

There are not many recordings of Phil Urso out there. You have to read the personnel lineups on other players' albums. Still, this much is true: He may have spent his life making music under the radar, but he has spent it making music.

"I've been playin' over fifty years," says Urso. "That's all I know."

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