The five best jazz shows in Denver this May
Since starting a decade ago, the Five Points Jazz Festival has been celebrating the music, culture and history of Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood by highlighting local jazz acts. Acts on the main stage of this year's festival include the Hazel Miller Band, Conjunto Colores, Park Hill Brass, Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra and Southern Journey, while some acts on other stages include Buckner Funkenjazz, Willie Houston, Deep Chocolate and Adam Bodine Trio. The free event also includes food and art vendors.
On his OA2 Records effort, Pieces, New York City-based saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi shows that he's equally at home with straight-head tunes as he is delving into more avant-garde territory. Local trumpeter Ron Miles, who joins the saxophonist on this date, is also on the album, which includes some cuts inspired by the likes of Bill Frisell, Todd Sickafoose and Tim Berne. Local pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist Greg Garrison and drummer Paul Romaine will also perform.
Pat Metheny has hailed Martin Taylor as "one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument," which clearly speaks volumes about the playing of this British fingerstyle guitarist. Influenced by jazz guitar greats Joe Pass and Django Reinhardt, Taylor was also inspired by pianists Art Tatum and Bill Evans. While Taylor has a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and a number of British Jazz Awards under his belt, he was also appointed MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for Services to Jazz Music by the Queen of England in 2002. Easily one of the best guitarists on the other side of the pond.
Since his 1999 debut, Soundtrack to Human Motion, pianist Jason Moran has gone on to win a number of awards and release a string of outstanding discs, including his most recent Blue Note effort, 2010's Ten, which also celebrated the tenth anniversary of working with the Bandwagon bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. Not only a hell of a pianist and an improviser, Moran is a damn fine composer. Expect some extremely energetic playing over these two nights at Dazzle.
Having honed his chops early on with jazz heavies like Jon Hendricks, Wynton Marsalis and Betty Carter, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who turned fifty in January, is a fine musician and leader in his own right, as evidenced on a number of discs he's released under his own name. The fiery vibraphonist Stefon Harris, who's been through town with the SFJAZZ Collective and the Ninety Miles Project in the past few months, is Chestnut's special guest on this date, so expect some stellar interplay between the two and with bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Evan Sherman.
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