Why Jazz Matters: Track 13

| April 1, 2015

by Norman Provizer

Back in 2002, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History began promoting April as Jazz Appreciation Month. The idea, with the appropriate acronym JAM, caught on and there now exists a wide-range of activities connected to the month-long celebration. Of course, jazz, America’s great contribution to global culture, should be appreciated more than one month a year. And in some quarters it certainly is.

Interestingly enough, one of those quarters is the television world of fictional CIA agents where Homeland’s Carrie Mathison, Covert Affairs Annie Walker and her handler Auggie, as well as other such characters are unapologetic jazz fans. As a former real-life, covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson noted in writing about actress Claire Danes for Time magazine ‘s “The 100” list in 2012, Carrie Mathison (played by Danes) appears to have no hobbies “with the exception of appreciating the complexity of jazz.” In this sense, April is a good month to get into bed with Mathison when it comes to appreciating jazz.

Fortunately in Denver, there are ample opportunities to appreciate jazz in all of its forms every month of the year. At the city’s premier jazz spot, Dazzle (303-839-5100), the month begins on April 1 with the fine bassist Mark Helias and his adventurous Open Loose trio, followed by guitarist Dale Bruning and narrator Jude Hibler exploring the timeless music of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s pianist John Lewis on April 5. Skip ahead just a few days to April 9-10 and Dazzle has Trio M, a trio (made up of pianist Myra Melford, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson) that dials up killer music just before saxophonist Ernie Watts takes the stage with trumpeter Brad Goode on April 11-12. Then the “beyond category” band Kneebody is at the club on Lincoln on April 18, followed by saxophonist Dick Oatts on April 23 and Rekha Ohal doing the sounds of Radiohead on April 26.

Outside of Dazzle, Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden has the super guitarist John Abercrombie on tap as part of its Winter series on April 8 (303-526-0616), while the Soiled Dove Underground (303-830-9214) has the well-known crossover-jazz group the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman on stage on April 4 and the Newman Center at DU has a classics-meet-jazz evening with pianist Donal Fox and his Inventions Trio on April 2 (303-871-7720). And down in Colorado Springs, the annual Weekend of Jazz put together by guitarist Earl Klugh hits the Broadmoor on April 9-11 with Klugh, fellow guitarist Lee Ritenour, pianist Dave Grusin, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Canadian-born singer Nikki Yanofsky and Burt Bacharach (866-837-9520).

Also, traveling north of Denver April 16-18, you’ll find the annual UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival (970-356-5000) with performances by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and monster saxophonist Chris Potter among others. And back in downtown Denver on April 19, singer Catherine Russell performs as part of the new music series at Baur’s Listening Lounge (baursmagic.com). Additionally, pianist Lenore Raphael is making several stops in Colorado during late April, including one at Boulder’s Caffe Sole on April 25 (303-499-2985).

On the subject of new, Nocturne, a more upscale jazz lounge and restaurant on the edge of RiNo, has opened and April is the jazz spot’s first full month of operation. Drummer Jeff Hamilton’s trio was in town for Nocturne’s grand opening in March. During April, the new nightspot on the scene features six different area-based groups, each performing for one night through May. Mondays have guitarist Sean McGowan paying tribute to Wes Montgomery, Tuesdays find saxophonist Josh Quinlan doing the music of John Coltrane and on Wednesdays, it’s the Big Swing Trio doing hard bop sounds. Moving on through the week, pianist Annie Booth does originals on Thursdays, the Funky Fresh Trio does funk on Fridays and Manuel Lopez and Jeremy Wendelin perform modern, Afro-Cuban sounds on Saturday.

On the play front, Ain’t Misbehavin’, the Fats Waller musical, is at the Vintage Theater in Aurora through April 26, while Motown: The Musical is at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex through April 19. In case you are wondering about the connection between Motown and jazz, just remember that the house rhythm section for the famed Detroit label was made up of musicians who considered themselves jazz players.

And if all this is not enough, remember that day or night during Jazz Appreciation Month and the other eleven months as well you can catch the sounds on Denver’s NPR jazz station, KUVO (89.3 FM). There aren’t many all-jazz stations left and unquestionably one of the best is right here in town.




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Category: Shop Talk

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