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The best jazz shows in Denver in February

The best jazz shows in Denver in February
Robert Lewis

FRI | TIM BERNE'S SNAKE OIL at CU OLD MAIN CHAPEL | 2/7/14

Over the last three decades, Tim Berne has proven to be one of the more adventurous saxophonists and composers in avant garde jazz. While he's performed with a number of different groups over the years, he's also released two brilliant discs on ECM with his Snakeoil group, which incudes clarinetist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith (Dan Weiss is filling in for Smith on this date). On last year's Shadow Man, the group delved into cerebral and angular material, on tracks like "Static" and "OC/DC," most notably, while "Psalm" is quite serene.

See also: All upcoming shows in our constantly updated Denver concert calendar

THURS & FRI | COVERGENCE & PETER BERNSTEIN at DAZZLE | 2/6-2/7

Made up of some the state's best jazz players, Convergence plays Dazzle on a monthly basis, while also occasionally performing with nationally known talents like Bobby Watson, Larry Goldings, Jimmy Heath and Roberta Gambarini. For this two-night stint at Dazzle, Convergence teams up with the brilliant New York City-based guitarist Peter Bernstein, who studied with one of his mentors, the late Jim Hall. Over the last two decades, Bernstein has performed with jazz heavies like Lee Konitz, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and more recently he's a member of Sonny Rollins' new quintet.

SAT | BRIAN BLADE & THE FELLOWSHIP BAND at DAZZLE | 2/15-2/16

Having established himself as an in-demand drummer in both jazz and rock circles by working with everyone from Wayne Shorter and Bill Frisell to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, Brian Blade is also a strong leader in his own right -- namely, with his Fellowship Band. From a self-titled Blue Note release in 1998 through later records such as Perceptual and Season of Changes, Fellowship has always straddled the rock and jazz worlds, especially on the Blade-penned cuts that reflect his understated drumming style, which can also be quite fierce at times. The act is slated to release Landmarks on Blue Note in April.

TUES & WEDS | ELIANE ELIAS at DAZZLE | 2/18-2/19

Brazilian-born pianist/singer Eliane Elias, who's been nominated for five Grammys, got an early start on the piano. By the age twelve, she was transcribing solos from the jazz heavies, and at fifteen, she was teaching piano and improvisation. She moved to New York in the early '80s, hooked up with Steps Ahead, and then collaborated with her then-husband Randy Brecker on her first album Amanda, which was dedicated to their daughter. Since then, she's released nearly two dozen albums, including 2011's Light My Fire, and her most recent effort, the excellent I Thought About You (A Tribute To Chet Baker).

THURS & FRI | NICHOLAS PAYTON XXX at DAZZLE | 2/20-2/21

It was evident early on in his life that New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton had some tremendous trumpet chops. After a stint with legendary drummer Elvin Jones, Payton inked a deal with Verve when he was twenty years old, and he went on to release seven discs for the imprint, as well some other albums on other labels. While the trumpeter is clearly at home in the jazz idiom, he's spent the last decade digging into electric jazz-funk sounds of the '60s and '70s, which is evidenced with his XXX trio that includes drummer Joe Dyson and bassist Vicente Archer. Payton also sings and plays the Fender Rhodes and sometimes plays trumpet and keys simultaneously, as well.

SAT | BRUBECK BROTHERS QUARTET at LAKEWOOD CULTURAL CENTER | 2/22

While Dave Brubeck, who passed away in 2012, was one of jazz's greatest pianists, five of his six children are also accomplished musicians. At Dazzle, two of the Brubeck brothers (composer and multi-instrumentalist Chris and drummer Dan), pay tribute to their father and are joined by guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb. The quartet's latest effort, 2012's Lifelines, includes some fine renderings of Dave Brubeck's songs as well as Paul Desmond's "Take Five."

THURS | BOBBY WATSON & HORIZON at MOUNT VERNON COUNTRY CLUB | 2/27/14

After a four-year stint as the musical director of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson formed his own small combo, Horizon, in 1983, with like-minded heavies like drummer Victor Lewis. a few years later, the line-up jelled into what is now, with pianist Edward Simon, bassist Essiet Essiet and trumpeter Terrel Stafford. After an eight-year hiatus, the group released the first-rate Horizon Reassembled in 2004, and the group's visit to Mount Vernon is part of its thirtieth anniversary tour.

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