The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend
If any band typifies the Colorado approach to contemporary bluegrass, it's Yonder Mountain String Band. The quartet built up its chops playing in venues in Boulder, Nederland and beyond in the late 1990s, and its fusion of traditional instrumentation and progressive musical structures resonated with local crowds. The quartet has spent the better part of the past few years playing sold-out shows in venues across the country, and this weekend, the outfit returns to Red Rocks for what is always an eagerly anticipated hometown gig.
Crooked I began his career in California as an affiliate of Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger and other Death Row musicians in the late '90s/early aughts. This is perhaps where he first met Eminem, whose Shady Records imprint signed Slaughterhouse, the supergroup of which Crooked I is a member, alongside Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Royce Da 5'9. Crooked I comes to Denver in support of his latest solo effort, Apex Predator, which just dropped.
Even without Tyler Ludwick explaining his approach to art, this sensation of grasping for a romanticized ideal that seems just out of reach is clearly expressed on Princess Music's debut album, Odobenidae (the release of which is being celebrated tonight). Although the album is rooted in classical guitar and is, at times, tied to what has become a signature Colorado sound, Odobenidae is never bound by these aesthetics. Expressly uninterested in styles and trends, Ludwick requires a wide musical spectrum to satisfy his hunger for expression. Like a painting done in microscopic detail, the layered, complex arrangements on the record reflect an artist with a lot of time and devotion on his hands.
Matthew Moon's homecoming has been years in the making. In the past five years, the Colorado native has lived in Peru and L.A. But for his latest album, I Am the Wind (due for release this Saturday), he made his way back to Colorado, where he holed up in an isolated cabin in Aspen to write before finally returning to Mile High City to record. The assembled cast of players on Wind is Colorado to the core; the album features a slew of local luminaries like Hazel Miller and Jeremy Lawton, as well as players from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Tapping into zeitgeists both sonic and emotional, Airborne Toxic Event appeals just as much to those who grew up on the Cure and Smashing Pumpkins as those who cut their teeth on Arcade Fire and Interpol. And the group's success has only underscored just how much some people still crave literate, well-made, cathartic pop. (Airborne Toxic event appears tonight along with City & Colour and Saints of Valory as part of the FMQB Triple A Conference at the Fox. The show is sold out.)
Cairo's avant-garde composer CJ Boyd may be one of a handful of experimental artists that is a true international nomad who tours seemingly endlessly throughout the U.S. and Europe. Known mostly for his vibrant compositions with bass, upright and electric, and the occasional collaborators, Boyd manages to perfectly balance an instinct for informal jazz structure, organic sounds and coherent songwriting in a way that is both accessible and challenging. Other acts appearing: Iuengliss is the expansive pop electronica project of Tom Metz. In his songs, Metz is able to experiment wildly with his soundscaping while also making music that feels like it's lifting the weight of the world off your shoulders. Deep Satisfaction is the latest project of Glob's John Golter, former Hot White drummer Darren Kulback and Echo Beds' peripatetic madman Tom Nelsen. Expect the unexpected with these guys.
As anyone who's heard James and the Devil can tell you, fusing styles is something in which the band clearly excels. You can hear it in cuts like "Last Call," which feels like Primus meets Rage Against the Machine, or on "Jekyll," a funk-laden cut on which frontman Jim Campbell raps with auctioneer-style quickness. The band's new disc, Sample This, a followup to 2011's Altitude Sickness, includes some of the band's best songs, among them "All These Years," a collaboration with Green River Vibe that mixes reggae and rap, and live tracks from the Bluebird. The decision to put live material on the disc was a conscious one, intended to show just how energetic the band -- which features the sturdy rhythm section of bassist Adam Carpenter and drummer Matt Stoner; violinist Dave Ross, who makes up a large part of the group's sound; and proficient lead guitarist and percussionist Buz Crutchfield -- is on stage.
While there are rumors that El Chapultepec was operating as a speakeasy during Prohibition, it actually opened legally at the end of Prohibition, in 1933. Over the past eight decades, the infamous jazz and blues club has hosted a number of jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker and Eddie Harris, as well as a host of other distinguished guests, including rockers like Bono and Mick Jagger and former president Bill Clinton. To commemorate its eightieth anniversary, the bar has been hosting a week-long celebration that concludes this weekend.
The Cookers are a group of jazz all-stars that trumpeter David Weiss put together six years ago featuring a group of seasoned veterans, some of whom have more than five decades of experience. Saxophonist Billy Harper, for example, was a member of groups led by Lee Morgan and Max Roach and did a two-year stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Then there's trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart, who were both part of Herbie Hancock's electric Mwandishi ensemble. Pianist George Cables, meanwhile, played with Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper, and bassist Cecil McBee was part of Charles Lloyd's famed 1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette.
KUVO radio is bringing the legendary Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band to this year's Live at the Vineyards event, which also includes wine tasting, a silent auction and a gourmet feast from seventeen local restaurants. Since getting his start in Cal Tjader's band in the mid-'70s, Sanchez has gone on to release dozens of albums, including Latin Soul, which earned the percussionist and his ensemble a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance in 1999. On 2011's Chano y Dizzy!, Sanchez and company honor the legacy of two pioneers of Latin jazz, Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie.
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