Saxophonist Donny McCaslin began his recording career in the late 1990s after attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. He developed jazz saxophone credibility and then reached a somewhat different and interesting peak with his role on the David Bowie album Blackstar – Bowie’s last CD that was released just days before the singer’s death. That has opened McCaslin up to an even broader range of musical expression captured on his disc Blow that is coming out in early October.
On Tuesday, McCaslin brings his band to Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, for sets at 7 and 9:30 p.m. (303-839-5100). And its an imposing aggregation with Jason Lindner on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Zach Danzinger on drums and Jeff Taylor on vocals. It’s a group guaranteed to rock the house in real, cross-cutting musical style.
Jeff Coffin is another jazz tenor saxophone player who has ventured into other musical fields. Coffin, who went to the University of North Texas, joined Bela Fleck and the Flecktones in 1997 and stayed until 2010. During that time he also worked with the Dave Matthews Band. Since the late 1990s, Coffin has led a group called the Mu’tet, that highlights the saxophonist’s vision that music must constantly change and “mutate.” Coffin is at the Niwot Funk and Jazz on 2nd Ave. fest on Saturday. He is the featured artist with the Chicago band Liquid Soul. Other groups performing are: Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci with guest saxophonist Nelson Rangell, the Jennifer Hartswick/Nick Cassarino Duo , the Annie Booth Trio and the Niwot High School Jazz Band. The music starts at 2 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. at Niwot Rd. and 2nd Ave. (jazzon2ndave.com). On Sunday, the festival offers up a gospel breakfast.
An additional item of note is the appearance of the great operatic soprano Kathleen Battle at the Ellie Caukins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Center. Presented by the Newman Center, Battle appears on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Together with the Spirituals Project, Battle, who has worked with jazz artists, will do Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey (303-893-4100).
Speaking of blending classical sounds and jazz, bassist Reed Mathis, a founding member of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey band, is at the Fox Theater, 1135 13th St. in Boulder, on Wednesday with his latest project Electric Beethoven. The name says it all. The Mike Dillon Band is also on the bill (720-645-2467).
Also around town, you can find the Sam Williams-Tim Wendel Quartet doing the sounds from the classic 1962, comeback recording of Sonny Rollins (with Jim Hall on guitar) at Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club, 1330 27th St. on Friday starting at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333). On Friday and Saturday, saxophonist Max Wagner has a trio playing at the Crimson Room in Larimer Square, 1403 Larimer at 8 p.m. (720-639-6987). And on Sunday, Dazzle has a large collection of global artists doing global music under the title Mwenso and the Shakes – the Mwenso being Michael Mwenso. The group plays at 6:30 p.m. Also the somewhat oddly title Denver Jazz Festival (since it is really a swing dance fest) runs over the weekend from Friday at 4 p.m. until Sunday at 11:30 p.m. in the Studio Loft, 1400 Curtis, at the Ellie Caukins Opera House at the DCPA. The event also ties in with shows at Dazzle (DenverJazzFestival .org for details).
Finally, the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra perfroms its "Stevie Wonder Project" on Thursday, 6pm at Dazzle. The 19-piece big band is noted for their high caliber members and swinging sound!
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