Provizer's Jazz Notes
Ben Haugland, performing live at Dazzle on January 17
If you were to take a drive from Boulder to Colorado Springs, you would cover more miles than those separating Florida from Cuba – and that brings us to the band called the Ninety Miles Project that performs at Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder on Thursday night. Saxophonist David Sanchez, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and trumpeter Christian Scott were brought together by the Concord label to record a project that ended up being Ninety Miles. The trio of all-stars traveled to Havana where the members came together with musicians from the island nation and produced a highly acclaimed CD that was released in 2011.
For this edition of Ninety Miles, appearing at Macky and other venues, the noted New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton replaces Scott (also from the Crescent City) and the band’s Cuban-affected sound should raise the excitement level at Macky more than a few notches, even though none of the players are from Cuba. These are three musicians who are, individually, monster players – and they have found a formula that works collectively. Each time that I have heard Sanchez (who is from Puerto Rico), Harris and Payton in different contexts, they have always delivered top-notch music. Together they are a special delivery. The music at Macky is at 7:30 p.m. ($12 and up, 303-492-8008).
Thursday also finds pianist Ben Haugland bringing a quintet to Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, that features Los Angeles tenor player Greg Johnson and trumpeter Gabe Mervine whi is from these parts. Haugland’s Standards Quintet is on stage at 7 and 9 p.m. ($10/$7 students, 303-839-5100).
On Friday, vibraphonist Greg Harris takes the stage at Dazzle his group that has Venus Cruz on vocals, Sandra Wong on fiddle and more, John Grigsby on bass, Jon Stewart on saxophone and Mark Emmons on drums. The Harris group plays at 7 and 9 p.m. and the vibraphonist is gearing up for a gig in New York ($5).
While you can usually find bassist Ken Walker and his fine sextet at Dazzle one Friday a month, this Saturday Walker and friends are up in Lafayette to perform at the Rocky Mountain Center for the Musical Arts, 200 E. Baseline, at 7:30 p.m. ($15/$10, 303-665-0599). And at Dazzle on Saturday, it’s singer/pianist Shelly Taylor, who transferred from Denver to Las Vegas, performing at 7 and 9 p.m. with a quartet ($15/$7 for students at 9 p.m.). Also on Friday and Saturday, Cervantes, 2637 Welton, has its 10th anniversary with The Motet plus guests, saxophonist Dominic Lalli (a jazz player who has found commercial success with Big Gigantic) and guitarist Will Bernard. Bernard’s trio is on the bill as well on Friday. On Staurday, it’s AfroZep. On Saturday, the trio led by Bernard, doing Gravity A, New Orleans trance-funk is next door at the Other Side. The music both nights runs from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. ($20/$25 day of show, 303-297-1772)
When it comes to big bands, Denver has more than its fair share; and, on Sunday, there’s an aggregation that I have not yet heard – the Colorado Composers Big Band. Filled with a number of first-line, area-based players, the twist here is that it is filled with composers (like Fred Hess, Wil Swindler and Brad Goode) as well. All that should make the big band a group that steps out of the ordinary. It performs at 7 p.m. ($10).
Keeping with the big-band beat, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra pays one of its regular visits to Dazzle on Monday at 7 p.m. ($15), while on Wednesday, the Minor Note Orchestra, described as a fun, burlesque band with a decidedly jazz twist performs at the club on Lincoln at 7 p.m. ($10). And staying with the subject of large ensembles, composer/arranger Chie Imaizumi, who moved from Denver to Los Angeles, is back for a visit to Dazzle on February 2 with her reunited jazz orchestra.
Also keep in mind that while the Ninety Mile Project offers a taste of Latin jazz, there’s another taste coming up on January 24 when the M.F. Production Latin Jazz All Stars with folk like trombonist Steve Turre and flautist Nestor Torres hits Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden for what should be a raucous good time (303-526-0616). Additionally, the Five Points Jazz Festival is serving up music at a lunchtime event at the McNichols Building, 144 W. Colfax, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
On a final note: In 1940, the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hart provided the music for the Broadway play Pal Joey. One of the classic songs from that play is “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” If you want to be Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” in the most positive way imaginable, you have until January 20 to discover your new pal Joey, who turns the award-winning play War Horse at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex into pure magic. Joey, of course, is the horse at the core of the play – and the puppetry that makes him come alive provides you with a couple of hours, to borrow lyrics from Paul Simon, “of miracle and wonder” (303-893-4100).