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Best jazz shows in Denver in March

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FRI & SAT | CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE TRIO at DAZZLE | 3/7-3/8 One of the best bassists in jazz today, 41-year-old Christian McBride has been playing professionally for more than half of his life. He got an early start as a teenager with Bobby Watsons's group and then went on to play with heavies like Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson and Milt Jackson. Since his 1994 debut, Gettin' to It, McBride released a number of solid discs under his own name, including his latest Mack Avenue effort, Out Here, which features pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., both of which join the bassist during this two night stand.

See also: Pat Metheny: "I don't see the end of anything, only beginnings and expansions"

FRI | PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP at PARAMOUNT THEATRE | 3/7/14 Since releasing the last Pat Metheny Group album, 2005's The Way Up, guitarist Pat Metheny has been quite busy exploring quite a few different paths, including his Orchestrion Project, two albums with pianist Brad Mehldau, a solo disc, a trio record, an album of John Zorn's Masada material, 2012's Unity Band, and his latest album with the Pat Metheny Unity Group. While that album, Kin (←→), has elements of previous PMG albums, the disc also shows the guitarist pushing in new directions. (Pat Metheny Unity Group is also due at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins on Thursday, March 6.)

SAT & SUN | MATT WILSON QUARTET at DAZZLE | 3/1-3/2 A superb time-keeper, New York-based drummer Matt Wilson has performed with jazz luminaries like Herbie Hancock, Dewey Redman, Andrew Hill and Cedar Walton, while also leading his groups, including Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project. And for these two nights at Dazzle, Wilson brings his quartet, which includes trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, saxophonist Jeff Lederer and bassist Chris Lightcap, all of whom are on Wilson's excellent new disc, Gathering Call.

THURS & FRI | BILL CHARLAP TRIO at DAZZLE | 3/13-3/14 For a good idea of what the great pianist Bill Charlap is capable of you can hear his handiwork on the 2007 Grammy-nominated disc, Live at the Village Vanguard; that's a good place to start. While Charlap has no problem swinging heavy on up-tempo cuts like "Rocker" and "The Lady is a Tramp," his elegant phrasing is superb on ballads like "Autumn in New York" and "It's Only a Paper Moon." Charlap has worked with Gerry Mulligan, Benny Carter, Tony Bennett and Barbara Streisand, but the pianist also clearly excels in the trio format. Longtime drummer and cohort Kenny Washington, as well as bassist David Wong, join Charlap for this two-night stint.

FRI & SAT | DONNY MCCASLIN at DAZZLE | 3/21-3/22 Donny McCaslin has released a number of acoustic jazz albums since 1998, but over the past few years, the New York-based tenor saxophonist has been exploring different genres, incorporating more alternative, groove-oriented electronic elements into his playing, a la Robert Glasper and Esperanza Spalding, revealing an variety of influences from Boards of Canada to Aphex Twin. McCaslin's latest effort, Casting for Gravity, is his most daring yet. McCaslin will be in the trio format for these two nights with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Jonathan Blake.

WEDS | KYLE EASTWOOD at MOUNT VERNON COUNTRY CLUB | 3/12 While actor Clint Eastwood has had a long affinity for jazz and plays jazz piano, it's not surprising his eldest son, Kyle, is steeped in the genre as well. A bassist and composer, the younger Eastwood also scored some of his father's films like Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino and Invictus. Starting with 1998's From There to Here, Eastwood has released six discs under his name, including his most recent effort, last year's The View From Here.

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