It's one thing for jazz players to work on scales, modes and chord voicings on their own. To really put all of that theory into practice, though, it helps to have other cats to jam with and a place where you can hone your chops. Fortunately, Denver has a couple of open-mike jazz nights to scratch your itch. Each Monday night at the Meadowlark, Joshua Trinidad and David Kuntz, members of electro-jazz combo the Sputter, oversee a loose improv, which is open to all comers. The adventurous setting encourages individual players to play off one another while challenging their own ability. And although Tuesday nights at Dazzle are a little more structured, there's still room for improvisation. Dan Schwindt puts an emphasis on playing jazz standards, which has attracted a number of the city's younger jazz players.
Not a player yourself? That's okay. There's still plenty to be jazzed about as a fan. Alto, which just opened in the spot formerly occupied by Sambuca (1320 15th Street), is the place where a few of the city's seasoned jazzers have taken up residency; pianist Jeff Jenkins and his trio hold court on Thursdays, while the Nelson Rangell Quartet takes the stage each Friday and Saturday night. Meanwhile, on Monday nights over at City, O' City -- a brand-new bar and restaurant in the space that WaterCourse Foods used to inhabit at 206 East 13th Avenue -- Cory Elbin spins an eclectic mix from his collection. Elbin drops the needle on everything from Duke Ellington and Art Tatum to some free stuff like Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, later-period John Coltrane, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra.