The ten best jazz shows in Colorado this month
Esperanza Spalding kicks off a pair of Colorado dates on Tuesday, September 25, at the Boulder Theater, and appears the following night at the Ogden Theatre.
Denver gets its share of national jazz talent, but September proves to be an exceptionally good month, with some legendary folks like Esperanza Spalding, John Ambercrombie, David Torn, Brian Blade and Allison Miller coming to town, as well as a fine selection of estimable local talent. Keep reading for a rundown of the ten best jazz shows this month.
One of the area's finest tenor players, Keith Oxman has released a number of albums under his own name, but he's also performed with legends like Art Blakey, Buddy Rich and Sonny Stitt, and he plays with Curtis Fuller every time the trombonist is in town. Oxman can swing with the best of them, and he's as deft at weaving intricate lines on tracks like John Coltrane's "26-2" as he is with ballads.
David Amram shared a close connection with Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and other Beats while also being a jazz musician who collaborated with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus and Oscar Pettiford. Amram has also composed more than a hundred orchestral and chamber works, in addition to scoring the films Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate. While he's a skilled pianist, he's usually got an assortment of instruments; don't be surprised if he busts out Sonny Rollins's "St. Thomas" on the pennywhistle. In addition to the Dazzle show, Amram will be at the Mercury Cafe on Sunday, September 16, for a reading, Q&A session and for the Colorado premier of the new documentary David Amram: The First 80 Years, and he's slated to be part of a Woody Guthrie tribute with the Colorado Symphony on Saturday, September 22.
With more than two decades of playing trumpet under his belt, Joshua Trinidad knows his way around jazz, and he's a hell of an improviser. On BUCK, a soundtrack he wrote to accompany ten photos captured by New York-based photographer Chris Buck, he explores some different ground. Trinidad is no stranger to electronic music, as evidenced by last year's Weighing in for Pole Vaulting EP, and he's been known to sometimes run his trumpet through effect pedals, à la Cuong Vu, but the horn isn't necessarily the main focus on his latest disc, a somewhat ambient and introspective release that shows just how versatile of a musician he is.
7. RORY STUART @ DAZZLE | SAT, 9/22/12Rory Stuart is now based in New York, but the guitarist spent some of his formative musical years in Denver, playing with groups led by Billy Tolles, Joe Keel and Jerry Granelli. Since moving to New York, Stuart has been busy leading his own groups and performing with jazz legends like Brother Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Charlie Rouse and Dr. Lonnie Smith. For the past two decades, he's taught at the New School Department of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Expect a fiery set from the innovative guitarist.
6.SHANE ENDSLEY AND THE MUSIC BAND @ DAZZLE |THU, 9/20/12Over the last decade, progressive trumpeter and Denver native Shane Endsley has been a member of Kneebody (who blow minds every time the quintet come through town), but the Denver native has also played with folks like Ani DiFranco, Erin McKeown and Pearl Jam. With his acoustic modern jazz quartet, the Music Band, who released Then The Other last year, he's joined by Kneebody cohorts Ben Wendel and Adam Benjamin, as well as local bassist Greg Garrison.
5. ALLISON MILLER @ DAZZLE | SAT & SUN, 9/29-30/12In addition to performing with singers like Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Merchant, Allison Miller has also played with jazz heavies such as Marty Ehrlich and Dr. Lonnie Smith. With her group Boom Tic Boom, the well-versed drummer exhibits a range that is far reaching, from light handed cymbal work to deep grooves. For these two shows, she's joined by pianist Myra Melford, who appears on the group's outstanding 2010 self-titled release, bassist Chris Lightcap and local trumpeter extraordinaire Ron Miles.
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. But 2009's Mama Rosa marked Blades' foray of being a singer-songwriter, wherein he plays guitar and sings with a similar understated approach that he uses on the drum kit. For this pair of shows, he's joined by drummer Steve Nestor, vocalist Kelly Jones, bassist Chris Thomas and guitarist Goffrey Moore.
Known for his innovative textural approach to guitar playing, David Torn has released a number of albums under his own name and under the Splattercell moniker. He's also used his talents for film scoring and collaborated with a diverse set of artists including David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Sting and John Legend. Torn's musical palette undoubtedly has many colors, and when describing his forward-thinking trio, Sun of Goldfinger, which also features saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, he says, "It's three really crazy guys trying to make something simultaneously beautiful and horrific."
While jazz guitarist John Abercrombie has released some stunning quartet albums with violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Mark Johnson and drummer Joey Baron on ECM over the last decade, Abercrombie took a slightly different approach with his latest effort, Within a Song. He teamed up with Baron again, but switched saxophonist Joe Lovano and bassist Drew Gress for this album, which is an homage to the key albums that helped shape the guitarist's focus as a teenager, like John Coltrane's Crescent, Sonny Rollins' The Bridge and Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. For these two Dazzle dates, the guitarist is joined by organist Gary Versace and drummer Adam Nussbaum.
Although Esperanza Spalding released her debut, Junjo, in 2006, the bassist and singer has become something of a household name in 2011 after winning a Grammy for Best New Artist. Just 27 years old, she has already released four albums under her name, including this year's neo-soul-tinged Radio Music Society, as well as performing and touring with jazz heavies like Joe Lovano, Michel Camilo and Regina Carter. The diminutive, wispy-voiced Spalding (who is also appearing at the Boulder Theater on 9/25) is no doubt a double force, equally gifted as a bassist and as a singer.
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