Sunday Jazz Kicks off the Festival Season

Vail Jazz kicks off its solid summer of free live music programs this Sunday

For live music lovers, Sunday is about to become the best day of the week. Beginning this Sunday (June 26), the extravaganza of free jazz kicks off for the summer.

If you’ve strolled through the sea of stimulation that is the Vail Farmer’s Market, amid the colorful booths, cute dogs, long-lost friends and sweet aromas, your ears have probably perked up to the soundtrack of energetic live tunes.

Vail Jazz @ The Market

These Pied Piper-like melodies are emitted from the Jazz Tent at Solaris Plaza, home of Vail Jazz @ The Market. Beginning June 26, a rotation of popular, Colorado-grown artists perform for free from 12 to 3 p.m. A spicy six-piece ensemble of bass, percussion, horns, keyboards and vocals, Ritmo Jazz Latino kicks off the summer with infectious Latin rhythms while the peppy, Brazilian melodies of Ginga with percussionist ensemble Bateria Alegria light up the Market stage on July 3. The eclectic lineup continues throughout the summer with The Girshevich Trio, Dexter Payne Quintet, Joe Deninzon with The Mark Diamond Trio, The Hennessy 6, Kathy Morrow Quartet, BLT and Bob Rebholz, Katie Glassman and Snapshot and wrapping up with Chuck Lamb JazzFusion Quartet.

Vail Jazz @ The Market offers a refreshing respite from the sun and crowds, with dozens of seats available in the tent. Audience members come and go as they please and a sashay around the tent is always welcomed.

Jammin’ Jazz Kids

Your kids have a unique opportunity to uncover and unleash their musical talent for free on four Sundays in July as Vail Jazz once again offers Jammin’ Jazz Kids. An engaging, interactive workshop, Jammin’ Jazz Kids puts the instruments (congas, xylophones and more) directly into the hands of the kids and with a little professional instruction from experts Tony Gulizia and Brian Loftus, strike up surprisingly melodious harmonies within minutes. The free workshops are open to children between the ages of 4 and 12, with registration at 10:45 a.m. on July 3, 10, 17 and 24 at the Vail Jazz Tent at Solaris in Vail. Workshops are scheduled for 11 a.m. and last 45 minutes.

Colorado High School band showcase

Speaking of young talent, these teenagers have obviously already spent years refining their craft. Top musicians from high school jazz programs in Denver hit the Solaris stage for a free performance at 11 a.m. for four Sundays straight, from July 31 to Aug. 28. Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, directed by Paul Romaine, kicks off the inaugural showcase of high school band stars on July 31, followed by the Kent Denver Jazz Combo, directed by Stephen Hailey onAug. 7. Then comes East High School 6th Hour Jazz Combo Aug. 14 and Denver School of Arts, directed by Dave Hammond to wrap up the showcase on Aug. 21. Again, all performances are free and begin at 11 a.m. at the Vail Jazz Tent on the Solaris Plaza in Vail Village for four Sundays beginning July 31.

Vail Jazz @ The Remedy

If there is any question as to where to find the swankiest, most happening bar scene in Vail on Sunday nights, look no further than The Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Resort. Local piano star Tony Gulizia and drummer Brian Loftus lead a rotating line up of visiting musicians in feel-good dining and drinking vibes. The Remedy delivers exactly what it promises, a reparative combination of classic and creative cocktails, dazzling wine list, scrumptious selection of culinary concoctions, expansive patio with stunning mountain views and the frolicsome sounds of live jazz every Sunday beginning at 8 p.m. July 3.

These free Sunday offerings are part of the 22nd Annual Vail Jazz Festival, which kicks off on June 24 with Vail Summerfest and wraps up 60-plus shows later with the Labor Day Weekend Vail Jazz Party. The Festival brings international touring artists to Vail for free and ticketed performances each week over a 12-week period.

For more information or questions please call Vail Jazz at 888-VAIL-JAM

Vail Jazz Goes to School Sextet performs student compositions at year-end concert

The Vilar Performing Arts Center was alive with toe tapping, knee smacking and head bobbing this week, as Tony Gulizia and the Vail Jazz Goes to School Sextet performed a trio of concerts for local fourth- and fifth-graders to wrap up the latest season of the Vail Jazz Foundation’s Jazz Goes to School program.

Gulizia took students on a historical tour of jazz, from the funeral dirges of early 1900s New Orleans, through Fats Waller and Duke Ellington in the 1920s and ’30s, hitting a crescendo with Dizzy Gillespie’s 1940s be-bop — complete with three-conch shell harmony — and then dialing it back with the “cool jazz” of Miles Davis in the 1950s.

“Your mom’s got some soup on the stove and it’s boiling over,” Gulizia said of the torrid bop of the ’40s. “Well, she turns it down to simmer and boils it off a bit and we have a new style of jazz called ‘cool jazz.’”

The Sextet strolled through Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island,” sizzled on Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and jammed on Grover Washington Jr.’s pop classic “Just the Two of Us,” as the young audience clapped along, occasionally air drumming or throwing up a finger trumpet, cheeks puffed out like Gillespie.

Decade by decade, Gulizia introduced the tunes with a bit of background about each style of jazz and each musician who helped to make it famous, from the first jazz song that was ever written down on paper — W.C. Handy’s “The Saint Louis Blues” — to the heyday of New York’s Cotton Club to the advent of electronic instruments in the 1960s.

The tour came to an end with Louis Prima’s rendition of “Jump, Jive and Wail,” part of the resurgence of swing in the 1990s.

“Back about 10 years ago, or a little more than that, all of a sudden came a revival of what they called jive music,” Gulizia said. “You’d see kids just a little bit older than you doing the jitterbug and dancing and having a good time.”

FIRST-TIME COMPOSERS

As a new edition to the program this year, fifth-graders who participated in Vail Jazz Goes to School were challenged to write their own lyrics in sync with the jazz chord progression they had learned known as the 12-bar blues.

Gulizia and his fellow musicians concluded each of the three performances by playing a handful of the submitted tunes and, ultimately, crowning a trio of winning songs, rewarding the songwriters with gift cards to Sugar Bar candy store in Edwards.

He sang of run-away dogs, the cool, clear water of a summer swimming pool and making lemonade when life gives you lemons before launching into the first winning composition on Tuesday morning.

“Oh sweet candy, I need you the most,” Gulizia sang, as students craned their necks, searching the audience for the chosen songwriter. “Oh sweet candy, I need you the most. I’m going to win this contest, but I don’t want to boast.”

Excited murmurings shot through the crowd as Faith Sandoval, a fifth-grader at June Creek Elementary, recognized her song, embellished by Gulizia’s blues crooning.

“When I heard it, I was like, oh my god,” she said. “I was proud of myself that I worked so hard on it.”

After learning about the 12-bar blues, and the potential reward of a sweet treat for winning the competition, Faith said she was inspired to write on the theme of candy.

“I really like making up beats of songs, and what made me think of the candy, I really wanted to inspire little kids to keep on going to do this,” she said.

MORE 12-BAR BLUES

Tuesday afternoon brought a songwriting duo to the stage to collect their winnings. Maddox Fitzgerald and Keegan Collins, of Edwards Elementary School, wrote their song “Home Run” about America’s favorite pastime.

“I started with a conclusion,” Maddox said. “I really wanted to do that conclusion, and he came up with the baseball theme and he came up with the middle part, and then together it took us a while to figure out the middle part.”

Keegan said he was speechless when he heard Gulizia sing the first few lines.

“I didn’t think it was ours at the very beginning,” he said. “I thought it was some else’s because I thought we called it something else.”

“I heard the ‘Home Run’ and I was like, that could be ours or it could be someone else’s,” Maddox said. “I wish I could do that again, write another song again.”

The final winner was called to the stage at the third concert on Wednesday morning. Sammi Boeke, of Red Hill Elementary School, said her song “Springtime Blues” was inspired but the current weather in the high country, starting with chirping birds and growing gardens and concluding with “crazy snowing.”

“I was really surprised,” she said when she found out her composition had been selected, adding that she wouldn’t be keeping her candy winnings to herself. “I’m going to share it with my brothers.”

Vail Jazz in the news

22nd Annual Vail Jazz Festival

The 22nd Annual Vail Jazz Festival is two months away, and already making headlines!

“The Vail Jazz Festival has recruited numerous internationally known jazz legends for more than two decades, and this season, which kicks off in July, is slated to be its biggest season ever.” -Westword

Check out a special DownBeat article on Colorado Jazz Getaways, focusing on Vail Jazz along with Telluride and Aspen, as must-see jazz festivals in the High Rockies. Covering highlights of the Vail Jazz Festival, Vail Jazz Party, and the Vail Jazz Workshop, the article gives a tantalizing glimpse into what is in store for attendees this summer. Read the article here.

You can also catch more coverage of the Vail Jazz Festival in Denver-based magazine Westwordarticle here.

Vail Jazz Workshop Alumni

Vail Jazz Alumni have also been making waves in national news. A recent in-depth article features Keyon Harrold (’97) and his role as the trumpet player behind actor Don Cheadle in the new Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. The article also covers his relationship with alum Robert Glasper (’97), who composed the music for the project. Read the article here.

Robert Glasper (the composer on Miles Ahead) was also at the New School around the same time, but Harrold and Glasper actually met at a the Vail Jazz Foundation summer camp [sic] in Vail, Colorado years prior.  Glasper was the one who initially got Harrold the audition.  Funny how things work out.

Also in the news, Terrace Martin (’97), the saxophonist behind rapper Kendrick Lamar’s multiple GRAMMY-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly is garnering attention for his own album Velvet Portraits (NYTime review) and is playing at some of the biggest jazz venues around – including an upcoming sold out performance at SFJazz.

 

Before you go!
If you haven’t already heard the news, alum Grace Kelly (’08) recently joined fellow alum Eddie Barbash (’05) to play with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on Late Nite with Stephen Colbert!

@jonbatiste and Stay Human getting the crowd warmed up. Any minute now! #LSSCLXXXVII

A photo posted by Late Show with Stephen Colbert (@colbertlateshow) on

Vail Jazz Goes to School returns with a sweet reward in store

Vail Jazz Goes to School, Vail Jazz’s music education program for fourth- and fifth-graders, returns to schools in Eagle County starting today. This third session brings a trio of professional musicians and educators into 15 local schools to share their love of jazz and American history, and to inspire young people to embrace America’s own art form, whether as spectators or musicians.

Musician and educator Tony Gulizia leads the program.

“When the kids get to use their own hands to play an instrument as they do in this session, the beauty of the music really comes alive for them. They understand how it works and why improvisation is at the heart of all jazz music,” Gulizia said.

Two jazz educators — Gulizia’s brother, Joey, drums, and Andy Hall, bass — join him in this session as they introduce the blues scale and other techniques used in improvisation. Students are taught the notes of the blues scale and musical concepts such as dissonance and syncopation. With this foundation, the older students then get a chance to try their hand at creating their own jazz by writing 12-bar blues compositions, with lyrics put to a blues beat.

At the final concert on May 10 and 11 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, a selection of fifth-grade students’ blues compositions will be presented in medley. New this year, one group of students will be awarded for having the best lyrics at each of the three final concerts, thanks to support from Sugar Bar. The Vail Daily will also recognize winning lyrics by publishing them in the newspaper.

“Most kids would never be exposed to jazz, much less understand its development and relevance to American history, without this program,” said Dawn Vallejos, music teacher at Eagle Valley and Edwards elementary schools.

The program provides music teachers with a comprehensive curriculum, pre- and post-visit lesson plans and follow-up activities that complement the three sessions with the musicians in the classroom.

Vail Jazz Goes to School, now in its 16th year, supports and promotes jazz with a focus on educating young audiences. Jazz Goes to School is presented by Vail Jazz to Eagle County fourth- and fifth-graders at all public schools and Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Elementary School and St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School.

Vail Jazz Goes to School will reach more than 1,100 Eagle County students this school year and has exposed more than 17,000 students to this unique American art form since its inception.

Eagle County Swings with Vail Jazz Goes to School

Vail Jazz Goes to School, Vail Jazz’s unique jazz education program for fourth- and fifth-graders, returns to Eagle County schools Monday through Thursday. The program features a quintet of professional musician-educators who travel to 16 local elementary schools to share their love of jazz and American history and inspire young people to embrace jazz, America’s original art form.

While September’s Session 1 focused on the origins of jazz and the rhythm section with handmade bongos and drums, this second session of the four-part program adds in the horn section.

“We want to introduce the kids to the heart of jazz, while the cool combination of drums, piano and bass forms the core of all jazz music,” said program director Tony Gulizia. “Now, we add in the saxophone and trumpet to create a clean, cool sound they love.”

COMPOSING JAZZ MUSIC

Later in the Vail Jazz Goes to School curriculum, the older students will try their hands at writing their own jazz music. The final concert in May at the Vilar Performing Arts Center includes blues compositions created by the fifth-graders, performed in an exciting medley format.

Vail Resorts EpicPromise, the company’s philanthropy program, has identified Vail Jazz Goes to School as a necessary and valuable way to help bring the arts into our schools.

“Vail Resorts supports Jazz Goes to School as an incredibly important program that teaches the wonders of jazz to the children of Eagle County,” said Nicky DeFord, manager of charitable giving for Vail Resorts. Additionally, Alpine Bank’s grant to Vail Jazz provides funds to bring accomplished jazz instructors from around the country into all elementary schools in the region.

“We encourage parents of fourth- and fifth-graders to attend their children’s programs to share their enthusiasm for what they’re learning,” said Robin Litt, executive director of Vail Jazz. “Their love for the program can be really infectious.”

Tony Gulizia (keyboard and vocals), directs Vail Jazz Goes to School along with his brother Joey, who is also a professional jazz musician and educator, on drums. Other musician-educators performing and teaching this week include Andy Hall (bass), Roger Neumann (saxophone) and Mike Gurciullo (trumpet).

Now in its 18th year, Vail Jazz Goes to School supports and promotes the jazz art form with a focus on educating young musicians and young audiences — fulfilling the mission of Vail Jazz.

Workshop alumns in Vanity Fair

Two recent articles in Vanity Fair Magazine focused on today’s bright new generation of jazz musicians, and featured a dozen Vail Jazz Workshop alumns in the ranks of the best young musicians on the scene.

Grace Kelly (’08, sax) appears alongside Vail favorite Cyrille Aimée in an article about Millenials who are shaking up the jazz world. (Robert Glasper, ’97 piano, gets an honorable mention but misses the age cutoff).

In another article about the parade of sensational young jazz players on today’s scene, dubbed the Jazz “youth-quake” ,  another nine Vail Jazz Workshop alumns are mentioned.

Congrats to Elena Pinderhughes (’11, sax), Luques Curtis (’00, bass), Russell Hall (’10, bass), Hailey Niswanger (’07, sax), Lakecia Benjamin (’99, sax), Erica Von Kleist (’98, sax), Sullivan Fortner (’02, piano), Marcus Gilmore (’02, drums), and alumn of the original 1998 Workshop class, Miles Mosley (bass).

Photo for Vanity Fair by Mark Seliger.

 

 

2015 Vail Jazz Party photos now online

Pictures from the 21st Annual Vail Jazz Party are now online! Featuring pictures from nine sessions over Labor Day Weekend, with incredible solos, group performances and once-in-a-lifetime jam sessions. Check them out below:

 

 

Vail Jazz Goes to School swings into Eagle County schools

Vail Jazz Goes to School, the Vail Jazz education program for fourth- and fifth-graders, returns to schools in Eagle County starting Monday. A staff of professional musicians and educators join local jazz musician and Tony Gulizia, the program director, to bring this innovative educational program to 16 local schools. They share their love and knowledge of jazz and American history to inspire young people to embrace jazz, America’s own art form.

“Children’s eyes light up when Mr. Gulizia works with them on the introduction to jazz,” said Robin Litt, executive director. “There’s nothing like Vail Jazz Goes to School elsewhere in the country, and we are so lucky to have such a talented teaching staff lead the program.”

The first of four sessions, titled What Is This Thing Called Jazz?, explore the evolution of the music from its origins in Africa and the American south through to present day. Students will examine the customs and musical traditions that African slaves brought to America, how the migration of the black population brought blues to New Orleans and the history and evolution of many musical instruments. Throughout the session, students are encouraged to try their hand at playing special handmade percussion instruments from West Africa and learn the African rhythms that found their way to New Orleans.

Now in its 18th year, Vail Jazz Goes to School supports and promotes the jazz art form with a focus on educating young musicians and young audiences — fulfilling the mission of Vail Jazz. For this first session, Gulizia is joined by his brother Joey on drums, also a professional jazz musician and educator, and Michael Pujado on percussion.

ABOUT JAZZ GOES TO SCHOOL

Vail Jazz Goes to School is presented at all Eagle County public schools, plus the Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Charter School and St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School. Vail Jazz Goes to School reaches more than 1,200 students each year and has exposed more than 16,000 students to the course about this uniquely American art form.

Since 1995, Vail Jazz has brought attention to jazz music through live performances, which showcase the talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. Vail Jazz Goes to School is presented through grants from Vail Resorts Epic Promise, Alpine Bank, United Way Eagle River Valley and Colorado Mountain Express, along with donations from individuals who support sharing jazz with younger generations.

Vail Jazz All-Stars CD now available for preorder

2015-All-StarsEach year, a dozen of North America’s most dedicated, gifted and promising young jazz musicians are chosen from a broad field of talented applicants, receiving scholarships to participate in the Vail Jazz Workshop. After 10 days of intensive study, the students are proudly referred to as the “Vail Jazz All-Stars,” performing on several occasions as part of the Vail Jazz Party.

This double cd features the 2015 Vail Jazz All-Stars, and their performances from Thursday, September 3 – Sunday, September 6 at the 21st Annual Vail Jazz Party. Over the Vail Jazz Party, the Vail Jazz All-Stars performed in two sextets, the Alto Combo and the Tenor Combo, and all together as a whole.

The songs they performed ranged from well-known jazz favorites to original pieces composed by the students themselves, including Jerome Gillespie’s “What I Meant to Say,” Max Schwartz’s “Mountain Bounce,” Ethan Santos’ “Softly,” and Luca Mendoza’s “Escape.”

Buy your copy today and you will be stunned by the incredible talent of these young musicians, as composers and performers. All sales benefit the 2016 Vail Jazz Workshop; help us support the future of jazz!

 

 

Please note that this is a preorder and the CDs will be ready to ship by December 1, 2015.

 

‘Unrehearsed brilliance’ at the annual Vail Jazz Party on Labor Day weekend

In the early 20th century, musicians began combining Caribbean and African drumming, creating a new sound ingrained in American history: jazz.

“Jazz is America’s unique musical art form,” said Owen Hutchinson, development manager for Vail Jazz. The genre has become a quintessential part of American culture, making the Vail Jazz Party, taking place Thursday through Monday, Sept. 7, a fitting way to celebrate the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The party is the culmination of the 12-week Vail Jazz Festival, which runs from June through September. Approximately 30 world-renowned jazz musicians, such as John Clayton and Roberta Gambarini, will play over the long weekend. Eleven sessions of multiple sets span the five days of festivities and allow the audience to see jazz legends, young professionals and the most talented jazz students in the country.

IMMERSED IN IMPROV

Each set is performed by a collection of musicians who have never before played in that specific mixture. Each combination of artists will improvise in front of an average audience of more than 500 people. This focus on spontaneity that has long characterized jazz is one of the party’s features that brings jazz lovers back to Vail each year.

Clayton, a bass player and former student of bass legend Ray Brown, said on-stage improvisation and connecting with old friends and young musicians off stage are the best parts of performing in Vail.

“That connection is inspiring” he said, suggesting that it helps develop his creativity. “I have to dig into a deeper place and combine my efforts and experiences” to play with these musicians.

While this creative process may seem like it will yield unwieldy results, Hutchinson said the results of the combinations and different styles are “unrehearsed brilliance.” And the continued success of the Jazz Party corroborates that stance.

The on-stage communication that makes jazz so unique is one of the features that Clayton associates with the genre. One of his earliest musical memories is of watching Brown on stage with other musicians in a Los Angeles club, communicating with their bodies and eyes.

“They were communicating with each other and having a joyous time,” Clayton said. This approach to music affects his playing even today, as he learned early to associate fun with music.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Jazz Party weekend will provide audiences with endless opportunities to see musicians having fun.

  • Opening night, Thursday, welcomes back artists Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash, among others.
  • Friday is largely dedicated to celebrating women in jazz and begins with a showing of the award-winning documentary “The Girls in the Band.” After the film, there will be a multimedia tribute to women in jazz. Seven female performers, including Gambarini, Sherrie Maricle, Niki Haris and Lauren Falls, will perform and discuss their forerunners.
  • Saturday, Sept. 5, focuses on the contribution Brown made to jazz and the influence of drum rhythms.
  • The Gospel Prayer Meetin’ performance on Sunday, Sept. 6, will highlight the importance of gospel sounds to jazz. Since many of the artists developed in a gospel setting, Hutchinson said, this will be a high-energy and fun show.
  • The Jazz Party ends on Monday, Sept. 7, with an all-day session showcasing some of the festival’s greatest artists, including Gambarini, George Cables and others.

Along with fun, the Jazz Party also provides “edutainment,” or entertaining learning opportunities, said Robin Litt, of the Vail Jazz Foundation. Several performances throughout the five days are in a multimedia format, educating the audience about the lives of jazz legends through music, video and still footage. Litt said she hopes these shows will allow the audience to leave performances inspired to learn more.

FUTURE OF JAZZ

The Jazz Party also provides opportunities to hear the future of jazz. Clayton said he enjoys listening to the young musicians at the festival because of their varied and contemporary musical vocabulary, incorporating hip-hop and New Orleans-based sounds.

“I love a lot of what they do,” Clayton said, “and I want to grow in that way, as well.”

To encourage the future of jazz, Vail Jazz offers the Vail Jazz Workshop each year during the Jazz Party. Twelve high school students are invited to study in Vail with the professionals playing in the festival. These students go through a rigorous audition, and the workshop aims to provide a focused, technical education different from what they receive at home with their regular teachers. Through this process, Clayton also hopes to solidify their passion for jazz.

“They already come in love with the music and with the idea of pursuing the music at the highest level they can, and they’re only in high school! But they’ve already got that focus,” Clayton said.

With a professional per every two students, these young musicians receive the attention they need to take their music to a higher level. The teachers are also dedicated to breaking some of the constraints with which many contemporary students approach music. Because of an increased dependence on sheet music in universities and conservatories, many students never develop the confidence to improvise.

But at the Vail Jazz workshop, no sheet music is allowed and independent creativity is encouraged. Playing on stage with professionals reinforces this skill, which, according to Litt, is a “very inspiring experience for the students because they’re seeing a life in jazz.”

The Vail Jazz Party is also a place for adults who don’t yet appreciate jazz to learn that it’s more than the classic ballad crooner sounds of Bing Crosby and Sinatra or the free-form elevator music pervasive in shopping malls. It includes genres such as swing and Dixieland, with danceable beats and high energy. So whether you are a jazz skeptic or aficionado, a traditionalist or contemporary jazz listener, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Vail Jazz Party.