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Free jazz: Ron Miles performs at the Mercury Cafe tonight -- for free

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There are a lot of great jazz musicians in Denver, but perhaps none so acclaimed as trumpeter Ron Miles. Internationally noted for inventive compositions that stay well enough within the bounds of convention not to alienate, Miles also boasts considerable chops as an arranger (his credits include an adaptation of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart") and a distinctive voice as a horn-player in general. It goes without saying then, that it's not often you get to see a talent like Miles perform for free -- and particularly not in an intimate venue like the Mercury Cafe. But that's what's happening tonight; get details after the jump.

Aside from being a sought-after performer, Miles is also a music instructor at Metro State College of Denver, which is how this show came about -- instead of performing with his usual group of musicians, Miles will be playing with his students. Merc Owner Marilyn Megenity says that, though this is the first performance of its kind with Miles at center stage, student-instructor shows are not uncommon at the Merc -- one fixture has been Bill Clark, an instructor at CU-Denver, with his all-student Dixieland group the Claim Jumpers.

"These are great concerts," Megenity says. "You know, Mozart did a lot of his great composing when he was 17."

Go for the potential child-prodigies or go for the established name, but go -- this is one you shouldn't miss. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. For more information, call the Merc at 303-294-9258.

In the meantime, here's a little Ron Miles to tide you over, performing with jazz-guitar great Bill Frisell in Germany. Enjoy!

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