The best jazz in Denver in September
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band got its start at the legendary New Orleans venue that it's named after over five decades ago. The group has gone through many line-up changes over the last fifty years with some of the group's elders passing the torch to younger members, including its current director, Ben Jaffe (son of founders Allan and Sandra), who took over management a decade ago. The act continues to revere and preserve traditional New Orleans-style jazz.
With an emphasis on traditional, classic, New Orleans, swing and mainstream styles of jazz, the Summit Jazz Foundation presents its annual festival. Headliners include Texas's Jim Cullum Jazz Band, Florida's Allan Vache Quintet, Boston's New Black Eagle Jazz Band, New Orelans's Tom Hook & the Terriers, Denver's Summit Hot Seven, as well as groups from CU Denver and the Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars.
When Wayne Escoffery performed at Dazzle as part of the Tom Harrell Quintet last December, it was more than evident that the tenor man had some serious chops -- he's equally at home traversing through some powerful solos as he has laying back on ballads. Thirty-eight-year-old Escoffery, who studied with the great Jackie McLean, is in excellent form on his latest effort, last year's Only Son of One, which showcases his robust tone as well as his compositional skills.
In addition to performing with singer-songwriters like Ani DiFranco and Natalie Merchant as well as touring with Brandi Carlile for the last few years, the in-demand and innovative drummer Allison Miller, who's been at wielding sticks since she was 10 years old, has also played with jazz heavies such as Marty Ehrlich and Dr. Lonnie Smith. With her group Boom Tic Boom, New York-based Miller is a damn fine improviser and exhibits a range that is far reaching, from light handed cymbal work to deep grooves. For these two shows at Dazzle, she's joined by forward-thinking pianist Myra Melford and bassist Todd Sickafoose (who both appear on new album, No Morphine, No Lilies) as well as local trumpeter extraordinaire Ron Miles.
When virtuosic clarinetist Ben Goldberg, who grew up in Denver and went to East High School, began playing the contra-alto clarinet in Tin Hat, he started thinking about using the instrument as a bass. So last year he recruited some of his favorite players, including guitar wizard Nels Cline, consummate tenor players Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth and brilliant drummer Ches Smith (all of whom will join Goldberg on these two nights) for Goldberg's outstanding album Unfold Ordinary Mind, released last February as was the equally compelling Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues, which features Ron Miles and Joshua Redman. Except some brainy improvisation all around during these two nights.
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