The Multi-Colored Jazz Concerts Cornucopia | Norman Provizer's Jazz Notes

Oct 19, 2017

Javon Jackson
Credit BluJazz Productions

Trumpeter Greg Gisbert was hanging out at Dazzle the other night to hear fellow trumpeter Marquis Hill. As Gisbert noted, he was just catching some sounds before packing his bags at his Denver home and hitting the road with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Working with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and with the Maria Schneider Orchestra (a great big band that will be at the Lakewood Cultural Center on Feb. 27) keeps Gisbert on the road a good deal of the time, but he is quick to express great enthusiasm over Denver’s growing reputation on the jazz front.

Gisbert, who grew up in Denver, was born in Mobile, Alabama and is part of a generation of strong jazz-players raised right here. Another member of that generation is tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson who will be at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, on Friday and Saturday with a serious quartet celebrating the centennial of John Coltrane’s birth.

Like Gisbert, Jackson’s wasn’t born in Denver, but he too grew up here and is deeply connected to the city. He broke out on the national scene when he left Berklee College of Music to join Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1987 and stayed with the Messengers until Blakey’s death in 1990. There were also stints with Elvin Jones and Freddie Hubbard, and a string of discs on the Blue Note label. In 2012, Jackson and his WE FOUR band recorded a celebration of John Coltrane. So the tenor saxophonist’s salute to Trane has roots in the past.

For this visit at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, Jackson has an all-star quartet with Jimmy Cobb on drums, Eddie Gómez on bass and Joanne Brackeen on piano (replacing George Cables who was forced to cancel because of illness). Cobb, of course, is the sole surviving member of the Miles Davis Quintet that recorded Kind of Blue. In 2009, Cobb led his So What Band on stage with Jackson on tenor to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the masterful Kind of Blue disc. 

Bassist Gómez, a native of Puerto Rico who is no stranger to Denver, was an important part of the Bill Evans Trio and as led his own trio with Cobb on drums. As for Brackeen, the pianist has worked with any number of people, including Stan Getz and Joe Henderson. She is also the first woman ever to work and record as a member of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The quartet revisiting Coltrane plays at Dazzle on Friday and Saturday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. (303-839-5100). It’s always great to have a chance to hear a significant player on the national scene come home to where it all began.

Another of this year’s centennial celebrations belongs to Thelonious Monk. On Friday at the Field House Event Center, 1600 Federal, singer Sheryl Renee and KUVO present “A Colorado Centennial Celebration for Thelonious Monk.” The event offers singer Renee, pianist Tenia Nelson’s Spherio Trio (remember Monk’s middle name is Sphere) and actor/singer Rome Neal who has portrayed Thelonious in Laurence Holder’s MONK for some 17 years. The event starts at 7 p.m. (    

Sticking with the piano, there’s another visiting keyboardist headed this way during the week. That’s Ohio-born Larry Fuller, who will be at Dazzle on Tuesday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Fuller spent time with singer Ernestine Anderson and then joined drummer Jeff Hamilton’s trio before holding down the piano chair with the great bassist Ray Brown’s trio and, more recently, with guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli. Also, speaking of the piano, a young player by the name of Solomon Chapman is at Dazzle on Sunday as part of a quintet called Chronologue that is on at 7:30 p.m. I heard the young pianist perform as part of a group co-led by Ron Miles and Rudy Royston in which Chapman was the only player who did not have a nationally known name. He more than held his own in that fast company and it’s likely you will hear a lot more about him as we move on down the road.

Additionally at Dazzle, saxophonist Peter Sommer heads a septet on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts presents it’s small-group combos on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. And on the crossover side, saxophonist Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers are at the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave., on Thursday at 7 and 10 p.m., while The Sax Pack (Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters) is at the Dove on Saturday at 8 p.m. (303-366-0007). And KUVO’s “On Stage” program on Sunday at 4 p.m. serves up a recording of clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera from a 2015 concert in the KUVO studio.

Looking just around the corner, saxophonist Greg Osby will be at Nocturne, 1330 27th St., on October 26 and the Take Me to the River: Memphis Soul and R & B Revue makes a stop at the Lone Tree Arts Center on October 27. Then on November 4, singer Gregory Porter fills the Newman Center at the University of Denver with his special sound. In addition to Porter, the 2017-2018 Newman Center series will have the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, singer Tierney Sutton, drummer Antonio Sánchez (doing the music from Birdman and trumpeter Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective.

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Thelonious Sphere Monk
Credit NPR