The great songstress Lena Horne, who died in 2010 at the age of 92, was elegance personified; as lovely as an orchid, she could belt out a standard like nobody's business and wasn't afraid to be outspoken. She once said, "My life has been about surviving. Along the way I also became an artist. It's an interesting journey, one in which music became my refuge and then my salvation." These words form the essence of what Denver vocalist Lynn Skinner finds so fascinating about Horne. In her Tribute to Lena Horne tonight at Dazzle, she'll explore the lady's relationship with music, backed by a band comprising the creme de la creme of local jazz musicians: guitarist Dale Bruning, trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Mark Simon and drummer Paul Romaine. Part concert and part musical biography, Skinner imagines it as an evening that will go beyond mere imitation.
"We'll do some of the classics -- 'Stormy Weather,' 'Can't Help Lovin' That Man,' 'The Man I Love' -- but this is not just a greatest-hits show," she says. "I want it to be a musically interesting concert. And I don't begin to want to imitate what was hers. The chemistry, the charisma -- that was all part of Lena's excellence and mystique." And she hopes that her own stylings, with a dash of researched storytelling thrown in, will reveal exactly who Lena Horne was. "I love to bring the backstory into a concert context and rely on my own sense of why a song was meaningful to her," notes Skinner. "It's meant to be a reflection of how she spoke truth through the music."
Skinner and quartet will perform at 5 and 7 p.m. at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street; admission to the all-ages shows is $15. For reservations and information, go to www.dazzlejazz.com or call 303-839-5100.
Sun., Dec. 18, 2011