Provizer's Jazz Notes
Jazz Notes, 4-18-13
Nnena Freelon, appearing at Mount Vernon Country Club
It’s going to be a great week for singing. Over the next seven days, fans of female vocalists will have a chance to hear: Gretchen Parlato (at Mount Vernon Country Club); Rene Marie (at Dazzle); Nnenna Freelon (at the Lakewood Cultural Center); and Dee Dee Bridgewater (at the Boulder Theater). In addition to those visiting artists, the week also finds area-based vocalist Mary Louise Lee exploring the “First Ladies of Jazz” in the company of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Boettcher Hall.
Things start of on Thursday with Parlato, who was born in Los Angeles in 1976. In a relatively short time, since winning the Thelonious Monk Institute’s vocal competition in 2004, Parlato has emerged as truly one of the top-shelf singers in the music. In fact, in the 2012 Down Beat “Critics Poll,” she captured the number two spot among female singers, with only Cassandra Wilson receiving more votes from the critics.
Parlato is anything but your ordinary vocalist. She has her own captivating style that is hard to resist. Her latest CD may be titled Lost and Found – and she has found her own voice in the music. She sings at Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden at 8 p.m. on Thursday, following the mighty buffet dinner at the country club that starts at 6 p.m. ($49.95 for dinner and the music/$25 for the sounds alone, 303-526-0616). She performs with her trio that features Cuban pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist/guitarist Alan Hampton and drummer Mark Guilliana.
Then on Saturday, Rene Marie brings her spectacular voice back to Denver for a two-night stand at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln. Marie, who lived in Denver before returning to the east coast for family reasons, is another top-shelf singer; and, in the most recent Down Beat “Critics Poll,” she topped the list of rising-star, female singers. On Saturday, her sets are at 7 and 9 p.m. On Sunday, she sings at 6 and 8 p.m. ($26/$12 students for the 8 p.m. set on Sunday, 303-839-5100).
Also on Saturday, the Boston-born singer Nnenna Freelon , whose released her first disc on the Columbia label in 1992, makes her way to the Lakewood Cultural Center, 480 S. Allison Parkway in Lakewood, for a 7:30 p.m. tribute to Lena Horne called “Lena: A Lovesome Thing” ($35/$31.50 students and seniors, 303-987-7800). That same night, at Boettcher Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver’s first lady Mary Louise Lee explores the “First Ladies of Jazz” (Ella, Billie, Sarah, Dinah and more) with her group and the Colorado Symphony at 7:30 p.m. ($25-$88, 303-623-7876).
The singing extravaganza ends on Wednesday when Memphis-born Dee Dee Bridgewater is on stage at the Boulder Theater as part of the all-star Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour band that also has Christian McBride on bass, Chris Potter on saxophone, Benny Green on piano, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet and Lewis Nash on drums. I first heard Bridgewater when she performed with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in New York. She was impressive then and remains so today. Celebrating the 55th anniversary of the California festival, this is a mighty collection of musicians that hits the stage in the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. in Boulder, at 8 p.m. ($25 and up, 303-303-786-7030).
Of course, singing isn’t the only thing on tap this week. On Thursday, Cuban saxophonist Aldo Salvent is a special guest with saxophonist Josh Quinlin and the Funky Fresh Trio at Dazzle at 7 and 9 p.m. ($12/$7 students). The Denver School for the Arts Jazz Workshop Orchestra is also on hand for that event. Then, on Friday, saxophonist John Gunther’s multicultural, musical group the Safari Trio (with guitarist Brad Shepik and drummer John Hadfield) is at Dazzle to celebrate the trio’s new CD on the Dazzle label at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15/$12 students at 9 p.m.).
Also at Dazzle this week, Greg Goodloe and the Light Year Ahead Band are on stage at 11 a.m. on Saturday for a pre-Five Points Jazz Festival party that runs through 3 p.m. ($10/$12 at the door); the University of Colorado Denver’s jazz and guitar ensembles led by Drew Morell offer free sounds on Monday at 7 p.m.; and jazz combos from Metro State led by Ron Miles are at the club on Lincoln on Tuesday at 7 p.m. also without a cover charge.
Speaking of the Five Points festival, there are free sounds leading up to that event (that takes place on May 18) on Thursday at the McNichols building across from City Hall from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. with Southern Journey. There’s also a Gift of Jazz “Blind Tiger” event on Sunday at 3 p.m. This time the Blind Tiger series offers a tribute to Dexter Gordan with a quartet led by bassist Mark Diamond (giftofjazz.org for information and reservations).
Going back to Mount Vernon for a moment. In addition to singer Parlato, the country club west of Denver off of I-70 this week also hosts a benefit for the Colorado Conservatory of the Jazz Arts on Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. There’s a pasta buffet and three rooms filled with music for the “Jazzorama Fundraiser.”
And ending on a singing note, vocalist Teresa Carroll joins pianist Purnell Steen on Friday at the Black Crown Piano Lounge, 1446 S. Broadway, at 9 p.m. (303-353-4701).