Jazz Notes 1-15-15
By Norman Provizer

While there are several notable events on tap for week, top billing has to go guitarist Bill Frisell’s return to his old high school on Wednesday for a concert that starts at 7:30 p.m. Though he was born in Baltimore, Frisell came to Denver with his family at a young age and graduated from East High in 1969. During high school, his musical focus was still on the clarinet and that focus continued into college at the University of Northern Colorado. But increasingly, Frisell’s attention moved to the guitar, while lessons with Dale Bruning sharpened his interest in jazz.    


He then took off to Boston’s Berklee College of Music; and, in 1978, he spent time living in Belgium and toured Europe with the Michael Gibbs big band, meeting bassist Eberhard Weber with whom he recorded. The following year, he settled into the New York scene playing on a number of ECM albums. In 1982, his first disc as a leader, In Line, came out on ECM and he was then in demand on a variety of fronts. 

At the end of the ‘80s, Frisell relocated to Seattle began his own group. The rest, as they say, is history. Just to illustrate that point, in nine of the last 10 years, Frisell has had a lock on the number one spot for the guitar in the annual DownBeat “Critics Poll.” No flash in the pan here. 

These days, Frisell front a number of groups; and for his stop this time in Denver, the band is the one featured on his recent Guitar for the Space Age! CD. That means that pedal-steel player Greg Leisz, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen will be on stage with Frisell at the East High School Auditorium, 1600 City Park Esplanade, on Wednesday. The music on the CD provides a new twist to the rock and other sounds from his youth with a rhythm section that can lock into a groove. For tickets, go to ticketfly.com. The sponsors of the event are Dazzle and the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts and it benefits East’s music-scholarship program. 

Interestingly enough, on the night before the Frisell event, cornetist Ron Miles brings a quartet to Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 7 p.m. (303-839-5100). The Denver-based Miles has worked with Frisell over the years; and Frisell, along with drummer Brain Blade, round out Miles’ trio that has released two discs to date. Not too long ago, Miles was at Dazzle with a quartet that had Matt Wilson on drums. This time around he has that quartet (Solomon Chapman on piano and Gonzalo Teppa on bass) back with the only change being at the drums where Marc Dalio is in the seat instead of Wilson. When he hear Miles play, you know why so many great musicians pay attention to him. 

Beyond Frisell, the week also offers alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, working as the featured artist with saxophonist Keith Oxman’s quartet at Dazzle on Thursday and Friday at 7 and 9 p.m. As is the case with many people, McPherson first grabbed my ears during his extended time with Charles Mingus. And his “Bird”-like sound is featured on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s film about Charlie Parker, Bird. McPherson’s new CD, The Journey on the Capri label, was recorded with Oxman and company (pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid). That’s the group on stage on Thursday and Friday. 

Then on Saturday, drummer Cody Moffett, who resettled in Denver not too long ago, has a group at Dazzle at 7 p.m. called his Jambalaya Youth XPlosion. Cody, who is the son of noted drummer Charles Moffett and the brother of bassist Charnett Moffett, has trumpeter Brad Goode and a collection of seven younger players. On Cody first disc as a leader, on Telarc, he had players such as Kenny Garrett, Wallace Roney and Kenny Drew Jr.  
Some other events to keep in mind are: Janine Gastineau e Seu Ritmo doing Brazilian and other sounds at Caffe Sole, 937R S. Broadway (303-499-2985) in Boulder on Friday at 7 p.m.; bassist Kim Stone, who has worked with two of the most popular crossover groups around, Spyro Gyra and the Rippingtons, at Caffe Sole on Saturday at 7 p.m.; crossover trumpeter Willie Bradley at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave., on Saturday at 8 p.m. as part of the KHIGH rising-star showcase (303-830-9214); and bassist/vocalist Charels Parker Mertens and his quartet doing Grunge Jazz at Dazzle on Sunday at 6 and 8 p.m.

Also on Sunday, there is a fundraiser for Augustana Arts benefitting City Strings at Jazz at Jack’s, 500 16th St., #320, from 5 to 8 p.m. with Dotsero. Dotsero is also at Jack’s on Friday and Saturday at 9:30 p.m.(303-433-1000). And singer Georgann Low is at La Cour, 1643 S. Broadway, on this Friday at 7 p.m. (303-777-5000)., while bassist Mark Diamond has a new Monday night series at Bohemian Biergarten, 2017 13th St. in Boulder, that features the bassist with the various groups he is a part of, across musical line. This Monday, it’s the Big Swing Trio at 7 p.m. (720-328-8328).   

And remember that on January 22, it’s the very hot M.F. Productions Latin Jazz All Stars with Steve Turre, the Terry brothers (Yosvany and Yunior), Chembo Corniel and others at Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden (303-526-0616). 


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