Provizer's Jazz Notes
Mary Ann Moore
As they say, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. On Thursday, the University of Colorado Jazz Ensemble gets the musical week going by revisiting Duke Ellington’s take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. The arrangements by the Duke and Billy Strayhorn do things like turn “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” into “Sugar Rum Cherry” in Ellington style, without ever losing the original flavor of the “Nut.” The Ellington Nutcracker album was released in 1960 and it was the first time the Duke devoted an entire album to the works of another composer. On CD, you can find “The Nutcracker” as part of the disc titled Three Suites.” The students from Boulder put their twist on it at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15, 303-839-5100).
Moving to Friday, the Mistura Fina trio (Frank Ayala on percussion, Andrew Hudson on bass and Alex Nekrosav on saxophone) offers a “Latin Jazz Christmas” at Dazzle to benefit the Mi Casa Resource Center. Mistura Fina, according to the band, is “a fine mixture” in Portuguese. The trio plays at 7 and 9 p.m. ($10). Also on Friday, pianist Purnell Steen, singer Myra Warren and the gang bring Christmas to Five Points with a CD release show at the Blair-Caldwell Library, 2401 Welton, at 6 p.m. ($10 suggested donation). Then on Saturday during the daytime hour, pianist Marc Sabatella celebrates Christmas Charlie Brown style with now classic holiday sounds from pianist Vince Guaraldi. Sabatella, drummer Jill Fredericksen and bassist Drew Morell are joined at Dazzle by the Voice of the Eagles singers from Edison Elementary School. The times at Dazzle are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. ($10), perfect for the exposing the younger set to the music. Sabatella’s trio will also be back, in the evening at Dazzle, with Guaraldi’s holiday songbook on December 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Later on Saturday, Colorado-based singer Mandy Harvey takes the stage at Dazzle for her “Holiday Special” with a quartet that includes pianist Annie Booth. Harvey sings at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15). Also on Saturday, pianist Ron LeGault and his quartet perform the pianist’s “Charlie Brown Goes to the Nutcracker” at the St. Julien Hotel, 900 Walnut, in Boulder starting at 6:30 p.m. (720-406-9696). As the title indicates, the suite blends Charlie Brown and the Nutcracker with other holiday tunes.
Christmas continues on Sunday, when singer Ed Battle, trombonist Al Hermann, bassist Mark Diamond and pianist Dave Hanson do their holiday thing at the Christmas edition of the Gift of Jazz’s “Blind Tiger” series. This event with sounds, food and more is at the Women’s Press Club, 1325 Logan, at 3 p.m. ($50, giftofjazz.org for reservations).
Sunday also finds the very gifted guitarist Dale Bruning celebrating “The Life of Johnny Smith” at Dazzle with guest Neil Bridge on piano. Though “Moonlight in Vermont” helped make Smith very well know, he settled in Colorado Springs. It was there that he passed away during the summer of this year. Bruning actually played bass with Smith, while Bridge, too, worked with him. Bassist Mark Simon and drummer Paul Romaine round out the group, supplemented by commentary from Jude Hibler. The Sunday sets are at 6 and 8 p.m. ($15).
On Monday, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra does its regular thing at Dazzle with bands from various high schools. This time around at 7 p.m. it’s players from Vista Peak ($15). Come Tuesday, the Colorado Music Festival/Center for Musical Arts has its combo at Dazzle at 7 p.m. ($10/$5 seniors). And on Wednesday, pianist Jeff Jenkins has his trio at Dazzle at 9 p.m., while the Bob Montgomery/Al Hermann Quintet pays its regular visit to the Wazee Supper Club, 1600 15th St., from 8 until 11 p.m. (303-623-9518).
A final note: A celebration of the life of singer Mary Ann Moore, who passed away this past month, will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, 5001 Pennsylvania Ave., on Friday. The service in Boulder will be at noon, followed by a reception at 1:30 p.m.