The Joy of Sax

Tenor saxophonist and composer Fred Hess is comfortable playing songs by Lester Young, Ornette Coleman and pretty much everyone in between, as he’s shown on the thirteen albums he’s released over the past seventeen years. While most of those were done with smaller groups, the local musician’s latest disc, Hold On, is the first recording in which he leads a big band. The album showcases Hess’s deft composing skills as he pays homage to some of the players who inspired him, including Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan and Bill Perkins. Although the majority of those Hess-penned tunes are fairly straightforward, modern big-band affairs, he also tossed a few angular numbers into the mix, like “Opposites Attract” and “The Clefs Visit Grandma’s,” as well as Anthony Braxton’s “RBHM-KNNK.”

Celebrate the release of Hold On at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street, at 7 and 9 p.m. October 8 and 9, when Hess and conductor Tyler Gilmore head up a sixteen-piece band featuring a number of musicians who performed on the album. Tickets are $12, or $25 with the new CD, which was released on Dazzle Records; student tickets are $10 for Thursday's 9 p.m. show. For more information, call 303-839-5100 or visit
Oct. 8-9, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009