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"Why are there so many jazz musicians in Denver?" asks Page Fraley, a jazz trumpeter himself, rattling off a list of fine musicians who teach around town. Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman, who teaches at East High School. Trumpeter Brad Goode at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Eric Gunnison at the University of Denver, Ron Miles at Metro State. And the University of Northern Colorado has one of the finest jazz programs in the country.
Fraley's theory? Musicians from everywhere come to study here, then like it enough to stay. Unfortunately, the number of good jazz players in the metro area far outweighs the number of good jazz venues, but Fraley's hoping to help balance that with Jazzmatazz Lounge, the club he just opened at 1612 East 17th Avenue, in what had been a dining room at Limón. With sixty or so seats close to a small stage that's big enough for a trio and perhaps one more musician, Jazzmatazz will offer people an intimate jazz experience, he says. A former owner of Basin's Up in Larimer Square who booked bands across the country during the '80s through his Page Productions, Fraley plans to book jazz acts at the club on the weekends, then bring in R&B, neo-soul acts on Wednesdays and Thursdays and for happy-hour sets from 5 to 7 p.m. Limón owner Alex Gurevich is involved in the project and will handle beverages and food for the club, adding a special bar menu to the regular Limón menu that will be served on weekends in almost a supper-club atmosphere.
A fan of Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge (930 Lincoln Street), Fraley doesn't see Jazzmatazz competing with that club so much as complementing it, as part of a coalition that will help keep those talented musicians working. Other worthy jazz clubs in town: Trios Enoteca (1730 Wynkoop Street), Jazz@Jack's (500 16th Street), Herb's (2057 Larimer Street) and, of course, El Chapultepec (1962 Market Street), all downtown. A few years back, the city's oldest jazz club spawned a sibling, El Chapultepec Too, at 3930 West 38th avenue. And moving out into the suburbs, there's Bliss Cafe, at 7501 Grandview Avenue in Olde Town Arvada, and the new Blue Moo'd Lounge, at 5950 South Platte Canyon Road in Littleton.
With the addition of Jazzmatazz, here's hoping they all make beautiful music together.
Club scout: Fully Tuned Productions, the Denver-based promotions company run by Duncan Goodman, Joshua Sonnenberg and Jeff Howell, has taken over Quixote's True Blue and Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom (both at 2637 Welton Street). Scott Morrill, a co-owner of Cervantes since it opened in 2003, will stay on board. The new crew is revamping the venues, adding new bathrooms, a new sound system and a new stage at Cervantes'. Both places will stay open during renovations, and there's a grand reopening slated for January.
Hoffbrau Colorado, at 7699 West 88th Avenue in Westminster, has also recently remodeled, making the dance floor bigger and adding another bar and more seating. The club brings in live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Also in the northern 'burbs, Architecture Promotions, the company behind Foxxy Football, is bringing Foxxy Boxing to Woody's Tavern (7995 Sheridan Boulevard in Arvada) for a one-night-only event at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 14. The club will offer $3 Coors and Coors Lights, plus shot specials, and $300 in prizes.