Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" isn't that hard — the melody is pretty simple, and it's blues in the key of F — but I was struggling with the tune on my tenor sax while sitting in at El Chapultepec (1962 Market Street). I'd only been playing the horn for about four years but thought I was better than I really was. So when it came time to solo, the notes were stiff, meandering and not swinging at all. Basically, it was the musical equivalent of mumbling and stuttering at the same time.
I learned a valuable lesson that night more than a decade ago: Thinking you're good and actually being good are very different.
And many of the musicians Jerry Krantz has been bringing to the 'Pec for more than five decades have been very good indeed. Over the years, he's booked most of the heavy hitters of jazz. But over the past few months, the club's been mixing things up a bit. It still features straightahead jazzers on Sundays and Freddy Rodriguez Sr. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but on Tuesdays, the funky and bluesy Diana Castro and her band now pack the place. And instead of having regular lineups on the weekends, the schedule rotates, with some blues and funk acts like Eugene Sings the Blues added to the mix. And for now, at least, it's closing at 7 p.m. on Mondays.
I popped into El Chapultepec around 11 p.m. on a recent Saturday and found the club about three-quarters full. I appreciated the breathing room, because this tiny spot can get very crowded. As trumpeter Hugh Ragin and his band ran through some funky jazz numbers, about half the crowd listened attentively and the other half gabbed away. Given that gabbers tend to congregate here on weekends, it makes sense that the club would want to bring in some funk and blues, which cuts through the chatter better than jazz standards.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I'm just glad that the 'Pec is still here.
Club scout: A few doors down from El Chapultepec, at 1920 Market, Theörie has been purchased by Paul Piciocchi, owner of Sutra (1109 Lincoln Street) and Tryst (1512 Larimer Street). According to Tobi Salario, Sutra's event and marketing director, they've brought in a new management team and are planning to run the club as is for now, with a focus on events; they'll re-evaluate plans next summer.
The Fainting Goat just opened in the former Moon Time space, at 846 Broadway. Owner Mark Holland, who also owns Hopper's Sports Grill (10051 I-70 Frontage Road North in Wheat Ridge), calls his new place a "pub with an Irish twist." And no Widespread Panic. But fans of Moon Time's Widespread Wednesdays can head south down Broadway to Moe's Original BBQ (3295 South Broadway), which started its own version a few weeks ago. Moe's, which was formerly the Falcon, offers a killer rib-and-whiskey special on Wednesdays, too — and you can still bowl there.
Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge (930 Lincoln Street) is offering its own bailout plan by expanding its happy hour: Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and again from 9 to 11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. and again after midnight Saturday until 12:30 a.m. And finally, Sangria Lounge has opened in the old Cherry Street Bar & Grill spot at 4501 East Virginia Avenue in Glendale. DJ Chonz spins on College Thursdays, when the club offers $1 PBRs, $2 drafts and $3 wells; DJ Richie Rich is at the decks on Fridays and Saturdays.