Flying the banner “Big Talent, Small Venues and Great Setting,” the Evergreen Jazz Festival that runs from noon on Friday through 6 p.m. on Sunday has carved out its own niche in the Colorado musical landscape. This year the festival has 10 “trad-jazz” oriented bands on tap, five from here and five from across the country (the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio from California, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet from Dallas, Ivory and Gold from Connecticut, the Brain Cloud from New York City and the Rock Island Roustabouts with members from across the country. On the local side of things, the area bands are: After Midnight; the Felonious Smith Trio; Gypsy Swing Review; Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles; and the Queen City Jazz Band).

Additionally, the festivities will have sets by the pianists from those bands (Jeff Barnhart, Brian Holland and Carl Sonny Leyland), along with two groups drawn from the players on hand (the EJF All-Stars and the Sweet and Hot Quartet) along with the University of Colorado Denver’s Claim Jumpers and the Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars. The acts perform in five Evergreen venues connected by a shuttle bus and tickets range from an all-inclusive pass to individual concerts tickets (303-697-5467).

Over at Dazzle in the historic Baur’s Building (1512 Curtis St.), the extremely talented bassist Ken Walker marks his 12th anniversary playing the club (either here or at its previous location) on a regular basis with his sextet (303-839-5100). Walker is one of the area-based players who could easily have been out on the road but has chosen to stay at home. Guitarist Tim Wendel is also at Dazzle with a septet that plays at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and is followed by the Tuesday Jam Supreme at 9 p.m. The Denver Jazz Orchestra plays Dazzle on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and guitarist Liam Hughes-Butler does the same on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

At Nocturne, 1330 27th St., the lineup for the week is pianist Adam Bodine on Thursday; the Royal Roost Revival on Friday; saxophonist Peter Sommer on Saturday; pianist Ben Markley on Tuesday; and the Tom Amend Organ Trio on Wednesday. All performances start at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333). Speaking of Markley, congratulations are in order for an interview with the pianist in DownBeat. If you don’t get the magazine, you can just google Markley and DownBeat. There is also a late-night set at Nocturne at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Trumpeter Bob Montgomery and his trio are set for Saturday.

La Cour Art Bar, 1643 S. Broadway, has a full schedule of players for the week including bassist Gabe Rupe on Tuesday at 7 p.m. (303-777-5000) and Caffe Sole in Boulder, 637R S. Broadway has gypsy jazz on Friday at 7 p.m. (303-499-2985, ).

Up in the mountains, Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ JAS Café has a Handful of Keys with pianists Emmet Cohen and Christian Sands on Thursday and Friday. That should be a knockout show at the Cooking School of Aspen. At Vail Square on Thursday, the Vail Festival has the H2 Big Band visiting Vegas with singer/pianist Tony Desare at 6 p.m. And on August 2, the 42nd edition of the Telluride Jazz Festival gets going.

Keeping the idea of long life spans in mind, the musical Les Miserables based on the book by Victor Hugo is back in Denver for the 11th time, a record number of return musical performances here. Les Mis premiered in Paris in 1980 and then moved over to London’s West End where it has played continuously since 1985. The original Broadway production ran from 1987 until 2003. The musical score by Claude-Michel Schonberg, which is a continuous, non-stop thread throughout the play, might well be the most effective one ever generated for a stage production and it continues to sparkle. This is a play for the ages because like all great pieces of art it never ages. It is at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex through August 5. (303-893-4100).

Comments and submissions:

Ken Walker
Credit Univ. of Denver


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