Provizer's Jazz Notes
Jazz Notes, 11-29-12
Colin Stranahan, appearing at Dazzle with Jonathan Kreisberg
A lot of years have passed since I first heard trumpeter Tom Harrell live in a very small club in Somerville, Massachusetts. But the passage of time has not erased the simple fact that Harrell, who appears at Dazzle with his quintet from Tuesday through December 6, remains among the top practitioners of the trumpet craft.
Born in Illinois and raised in northern California, Harrell played with the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman orchestras from the end of the 1960s into the start of the 1970s. In 1973, he began a four-year run with Horace Silver. Around that time, he also settled into New York, working with a wide range of people, including Lee Konitz and George Russell. And by 1983, he found a home with saxophonist Phil Woods that lasted throughout that decade and helped to clearly establish his reputation in the music.
For a number of years now, Harrell has led a quintet that features saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jonathan Blake. That group can be found on the last five of Harrell’s strong discs on the High Note label, the latest of which is appropriately titled Number Five.
Harrell, who has had his own battles with schizophrenia, plays with both lyrical beauty and assertive power. And his band is top shelf. They perform at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 6 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday – and at 7 and 9 p.m. on December 6 ($22-$28/$15 for students for the 8 p.m. sets on Tuesday and Wednesday, 303-839-5100).
Before Harrell hits town, there’s another visitor to Dazzle on Saturday and Sunday. That’s guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg with his group that has Will Vinson on saxophone, Rick Rosato on bass and Colin Stranahan on drums. Born in New York, Kreisberg went south to Miami as a teenager. After time in school and on the Miami scene, the guitarist returned to New York and has worked with a variety of folk from Konitz and Joe Locke to Dr. Lonnie Smith and Lenny White.
Drummer Stranahan, of course, grew up in Denver and has been making a name for himself on the national scene. This year, for example, this son of a saxophonist was one of three finalists in the Thelonious Monk Institute’s drum competition. Kreisberg and company play at 7 and 9 p.m. on Saturday and at 6 and 8 p.m. on Sunday ($20/$12 students for the 8 p.m. set on Sunday). The guitarist’s The South of Everywhere disc on Mel Bay is a strong effort; and, on his earlier CD on that label, Kreisberg established his Denver connection by having Scott Wendholt on trumpet. Stranahan continues that connection.
On the smooth side of the music, Saturday also finds guitarist/singer Nick Colionne joining forces with saxophonist Steve Cole in a quartet visiting the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave., at 7 and 10 p.m. for a Holiday show ($30-$40, 303-830-9214).
Returning to Dazzle, trumpeter Ron Miles holds forth on Friday at 7 and 9 p.m. with a group made up of Eric Moon, Roger Green, Myles Sloniker and Amy Shelley ($10/$7 students). Miles is always a treat and he has new CD out, Quiver, which features a trio made up of the trumpeter, guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade.
The musical week starts off at Dazzle on Thursday with saxophonist Josh Quinlin and his Standards Quartet that has Eric Gunnison on piano, Ken Walker on bass and Ed Breazeale (who has relocated to the Denver area from Chicago) on drums. Quinlin’s Mountain Time Standards CD came out on Dazzle Records in 2011.
Among other things, Quinlin is involved with the Gift of Jazz and the Denver School of the Arts. On Monday, the School of the Arts combo and orchestra are at Dazzle at 7 p.m. along with the Funky Fresh Trio (with Quinlin). Then, on Sunday, the Gift of Jazz “Blind Tiger” food and music series continues with pianist Marc Sabatella’s trio (Drew Morell on bass and Jill Fredericksen on drums) offering a Vince Guaraldi Xmas at the Denver Women’s Press Club, 1325 Logan, starting a 3 p.m. ($50, for reservation go to giftofjazz.org). Yes, it’s that time of year.
And speaking of that time of year, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical continues its run at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex through December 24. It’s an entertaining and nostalgic journey back to the mid-1950s that works extremely well, with no hint of Oliver Stone’s view of American history in sight (303-893-4100). How can you go wrong with anything that includes “Blue Skies” ?