As warmer weather moves in, music-festival season takes over Colorado. With this weekend's Five Points Jazz Festival booting up this year's celebrations, we rounded up some of the best jazz festivals and events, a few of which have been going strong for two or more decades, including Central Jazz, a relaunch of a festival that started in the ’70s. Here's our list:
Five Points Jazz Festival
Saturday, May 19
Five Points neighborhood
The Five Points Jazz Festival returns to celebrates the rich music heritage of the neighborhood that was once dubbed the Harlem of the West. More than 45 acts perform on ten stages throughout the day on Welton Street, between 26th and 29th streets. While this year’s lineup includes a number of great local jazz acts like the Bob Montgomery/Al Hermann/Josh Quinlan Sextet, Joe Anderies Beyond Borders and Hines Devine Jazz, there are also quite a few other genres represented, including Brazilian, funk, blues and Latin.
City Park Jazz
Sundays, June 3 through August 5
City Park Pavilion
These free concerts, which run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sundays in City Park, are ideal for bringing a picnic and a blanket or some chairs. The series starts off on June 3 with Jyemo Club, which fuses Latin and Caribbean rhythms with American funk and rock. The diverse lineup throughout the summer includes the Texas-style swing of Katie Glassman & Snapshot on June 10, the great R&B, jazz and gospel singer Hazel Miller with the Harmony Chorale on June 17, Ghana-born drummer and composer Paa Kow on June 24, and gypsy jazz quartet La Pompe Jazz on July 8.
Estes Park Jazz Festival
June 2 and 3
The 28th annual Estes Park Jazz Festival has a stellar lineup of local and national talent over two days that includes the Max Wagner Quartet, Gabriel Mervine, the Chipman-Hancock Collective, Quirkett, the Jeremy Pelt Quartet and the Lionel Young Band.
Saturday, June 9
Starting in 1976, Central City had its own jazz festival that ran for nearly two decades. Now, thanks in part to a rebooted Feyline, jazz (and funk) returns to the gambling town with Central Jazz. Dragon Smoke — which includes Eric Lindell and members of Dumpstaphunk — headlines, while NOLA Central All-Stars (Ivan and Ian Neville, Alvin Ford Jr., George Porter Jr., Nick Daniels and Tony Hall), George Porter Jr. & the Runnin Pardners, Adam Deitch Jazz Quartet, Joe Marcinek Band and more perform on four stages.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass JAS Cafe Summer Series
June 15 to August 19
While Jazz Aspen Snowmass’s Labor Day weekend lineup includes many non-jazz acts, such as Lionel Richie, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band and Michael Franti & Spearhead, its summer shows, taking place at various venues around Aspen from June through August, are more focused on jazz, like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, saxophonist Grace Kelly, the Hot Sardines and Dianne Reeves.
Vail Jazz Festival
July 5 to September 3
While there are many two- and three-day festivals this summer, the Vail Jazz Festival runs over twelve weeks at various venues around Vail. Just a few acts on this year's lineup are the hot jazz band the Hot Sardines, bebop vocalist Veronica Swift, the straight jazz trio Akiko/Hamilton/Dechter and Nicki Parrott's Tribute to Peggy Lee. The festival culminates with the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day Weekend, which includes more than 35 headliners who come together for a variety of performances.
Winter Park Jazz Festival
July 21 to 22
Now in its 36th year, the Winter Park Jazz Festival will bring in some big names in contemporary jazz, like Norman Brown, Eric Darius and Boney James, while also spotlighting R&B stars Fantasia and Keith Sweat as well as percussionist Sheila E.
Evergreen Jazz Festival
Friday, July 27 to 29
Although Evergreen is roughly 1,400 miles from New Orleans, the mountain town turns into “Bourbon Street With Altitude” during the Evergreen Jazz Festival. As with previous year’s festivals, the lineup for year seventeen is heavy on traditional jazz bands, including Dixieland, ragtime, blues, boogie-woogie and swing acts. In addition to a number of local bands like Queen City Jazz, Gypsy Swing Revue, Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles, this year’s event also includes two bands that haven’t played here before: the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet and New York western swing outfit the Brain Cloud.
Telluride Jazz Festival
August 3 to 5
Telluride Town Park
For more than four decades, the Telluride Jazz Festival has been celebrated as one of the most scenic music events in the country. While the weekend kicks into high gear during the day with nationally recognized talent like Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Irma Thomas, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and BADBADNOTGOOD, there’s also a lot happening during the festival’s Jazz After Dark shows at various venues, including Gogo Penguin at the Liberty Bar & Lounge.
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