The terrific vocalist Kurt Elling hits town on Wednesday and saxophonist Houston Person does the same on Wednesday and Thursday.. That’s quite a lineup, especially during a time when folks are busy thinking of a white Christmas and lighting Hanukkah candles. 

Kurt Elling sings it up on Wednesday with some added style at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Avenue. Elling has two sets. For the 7 p.m. show, he offers his take on the holiday season from his 2016 disc The Beautiful Day. For the 9:30 p.m. set, he does the same with the music from his current CD The Questions (303-366-0007). His back up ensemble includes the tasty trumpeter Marquis Hill.

The full-throated saxophonist Houston  makes his annual December appearance in Denver playing on Wednesday and Thursday at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis St, with Jeff Jenkins, Ken Walker and Paul Romaine.. Person, who spent decades in the musical company of singer Etta Jones for decades until her death in 2001, is on stage at 6:30 and 9 p.m. (303-839-5100). 

Also in the holiday spirit, the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra with singer Heidi Schmidt does the sounds of the season (including some selections from Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn’s Nutcracker Suite) at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Pkwy., at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday (303-987-7845). Additionally on Thursday, the Denver Jazz Orchestra with singer Donna Devine performs at Dazzle at 6:30 p.m. Also, the University of Colorado Jazz Ensemble does the full Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker on Tuesday at Dazzle at 6:30 and 9 p.m.

The list keeps going with singers Marylynn Gillaspie (of Rare Silk) and John Bertram at La Cour Art & Jazz Bistro, 1643 S. Broadway. The two singers, who are part of the Quirktett, perform at 7 p.m. with Eric Gunnison on piano (303-777-5000). And trumpeter Bob Montgomery plays Nocturne with a quintet that also has Gunnison on piano on Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m.

During KUVO Jazz’s 30th Anniversary year of 2015, pianist Paul Shinn was one of their “30 Under 30 Artists”. Paul returns to Denver playing at Nocturne on Wednesday, December 13th at 7:30p. Paul will be joined on stage by Gonzalo Teppa-bass, Dru Heller-drums and Anisha Rush on saxophone.

Speaking of area-based trumpeter Montgomery, check out the Jan. 2019 edition of DownBeat and you will find a full-page ad on the inside of the back cover for P. Mauriat trumpets featuring Montgomery. In the same issue of DownBeat, there’s an ad for the Hartt School at the University of Hartford featuring the school’s division director saxophonist Javon Jackson who grew up in Denver and will be at Dazzle with his quartet on Dec. 21-22.

On a final holiday note: The 1954 film White Christmas serves as the source of the Broadway musical Irving Berlin’s White Christmas that is at the Buell Theater in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through Dec. 15 (303-893-4100). This is a classic-style Broadway musical with an emphasis on strong dancing and superb songs (that includes, I must say, one of my favorites, “Blue Skies) by one of the classic American songwriters. It doesn’t push any envelopes, but it sure does entertain.

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