Five best jazz shows in Denver this April

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MATT SKELLENGER GROUP @ DAZZLE | SAT, 4/6 Fusing jazz with Indian rhythms and percussion, bassist Matt Skellenger follows up his 2009 release, Parentheticals, with his outstanding new disc, The Owls Are Not What They Seem (yes, the title is a nod to Twin Peaks), which he'll be issuing at Dazzle. Taking a few cues from complex bassists like Victor Wooten, Skellenger takes a more melodic approach with his playing. Joining him tonight are trumpeter Ron Miles, drummer David Miller, percussionist Andy Skellenger, pedal steel player Glenn Taylor (who all appear on the new album), as well as trombonist Adam Bartczak.

See also: - The fifty best concerts of the spring - Bill Frisell on studying with Dale Bruning - Ten essential jazz albums if you know squat about jazz

UNC/GREELEY JAZZ FESTIVAL @ UNC | THU-SAT, 4/18-4/20 The UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival is the largest of its kind in the nation, bringing in more than 275 college, high school and middle school big bands, combos and jazz vocal groups from around the county. In addition to those groups, the festival brings in its share of jazz heavies every year. This year's headliners include legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, Grammy Award winning a cappella group Take 6 and A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie with the UNC Jazz Lab Band featuring trumpeters Jon Faddis, Terell Stafford and Greg Gisbert as well as pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

DAVE DOUGLAS SEXTET @ DAZZLE | THU & FRI, 4/11-4/12 When trumpeter Dave Douglas played at Dazzle just over a year ago as part of Greg Garrison Improvised Roots series, he was introduced to Crooked Still's Aoife O'Donovan, who also sang during the sets. Douglas would go on to recruit O'Donovan (who is also joining Douglas this time around) for last year's gorgeous album, Be Still. Douglas is set to release Time Travel, which was recorded during the same sessions as Be Still, on his own Greenleaf imprint on Tuesday, April 9. Douglas is one of the world's leading improvisers. He turned fifty near the end of March, and his stop in Denver, as well as his stop at CU-Boulder on April 5, will be part of his plan to play all fifty states. Look for a Q&A with Douglas on the Backbeat blog next week.

BILL FRISELL @ DAZZLE | MON & TUES, 4/29-4/30 While Bill Frisell has no problem filling up large venues like the Boulder Theater, the former Denver resident has also performed at few times at more intimate spots like Dazzle over the last couple of years with Ron Miles and Brian Blade, as well as with his former instructor, Longmont-based guitarist Dale Bruning. This time around, Frisell is joined by drummer Rudy Royston, who was raised in Denver, and violist Eyvind Kang. Both players appeared on Frisell's 2010 release, Beautiful Dreamers. Frisell and Kang have collaborated a number of times since Frisell's 1996 Quartet album, so expect some forward thinking interplay between the two.

MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL @ BOULDER THEATER | WED 4/2 For more than five decades, the Monterey Jazz Festival has been hailed as one of the world's premier jazz festivals. To celebrate its 55th anniversary, the festival is sponsoring a tour featuring some world-class talent who have each performed at the Monterrey Jazz Festival multiple times, like vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, bassist and musical director Christian McBride, pianist Benny Green, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonist Chris Potter and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. When you have talent this good together, there's bound to be some fiery playing happening.

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