Singing from the soul to the soul

Combining traditional jazz with funk, blues and contagious joy, Nicole Henry makes Vail debut.

Nicole Henry believes that human beings are all connected. She strives to instill her audience with this notion every time she hits a particular note or loads a verse full of heart-resounding fervor.

“That’s the reason that I sing. We, in our own little way, want to either save ourselves or save the world as artists. We want to make a difference. The reason we want to inspire people is that we know we’re connected. We have the same fears, the same desires, the same spirit,” Henry says.

The Miami-based singer cites Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn as inspiration and has been sized up as a traditional jazz vocalist (she won the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best Traditional Jazz Performance). But really, her style straddles the borders of jazz, R & B, funk, gospel and contains a solid dose of soul. Swaying with eyes closed, reaching and quivering on stage, Henry summons each word from her core. The glowing aura – both visual and auditory – that she emanates serves as an intimate conversation with the audience.

Even while belting out emotional sentiments, Henry’s delivery is powerfully uplifting. Perhaps this is because the overriding feeling she’s always had while singing is pure happiness. Oddly, she took little notice of her ability to enrapture an audience as she was growing up, even as she was continuously asked to perform.

“I didn’t realize I had a unique talent necessarily until I was in college,” she says. “I always just did it. I sang the national anthem at every basketball game, every football game, but it was just something I did. I took it for granted. Even winning the talent competitions at my high school, I didn’t think about it as a real passion. It was just something I had fun doing. It was when I had a chance to sing for people who didn’t know me that it hit – these people don’t know who I am and they really like what I’m doing. I realized the power of being an entertainer and that’s when I was addicted. It was like, OK.This is what I’m capable of.”

The jazz world’s most acclaimed new vocalists, Nicole Henry, will play at Vail Jazz Club Series and Vail Jazz @ Vail Square on July 8th and July 9th

That was in 1997 and since then Henry has released seven studio albums, a new single last year and is in the process of putting together a new record, rife with original material. She has also wandered down the path of theater and acting, appearing in several commercials and voice overs. But music is the backbone of her artistic expression.

“It was a natural gravitation because music has this immediacy that I really enjoy. With theater, it takes much more time. I think singing is like a sprint, acting is more like a marathon, short term satisfaction. It just wound up that singing was more fulfilling to me, at least immediately.”

When she’s on stage, Henry views her performance as a three-part power formula.

“One is listening to my band, particularly when a song intro begins. If I just focus on how supportive my band is, how much feeling they put into it, I get so lost and appreciative,” she says. “That’s the dim light going bright in my mouth and here I am floating on top of this music. The other place is  – when I hear that, I think of how grateful I am, how appreciative I am that I’m – I get so lost and happy about that. That’s the light starting the dim going bright. The other part is where I’m in the song, the sound coming out like a stream of light and here I am floating on top of this music. Then I look at this audience and I feel their energy and their desire to be entertained. It’s those three coming together. It’s a real buzz.”

Anyone familiar with Henry’s performance can attest to the fact that the buzz is contagious. The light she generates moves through every ear, every soul, every molecule within sound range.

“I would say it’s an inspired performance, uplifting and inspiring. We have so much fun when we’re making music, my band and I. We go between heavy and light as far as content and messages. It’s all for forward progress,” she says. “When I sing, I’m there to remind people that we are all human. As different as we are, we share the same basic things. I love reminding people to celebrate regardless of how confused they are, how unfortunate, how fortunate, that music is something we can all enjoy.”

Was Sinatra a jazz singer?

On July 13, Vail Jazz celebrates the centennial of the birth of Francis Albert Sinatra in a special show entitled “A Swingin’ Affair,” featuring Curtis Stigers and the H2 Big Band. Sinatra, variously known as “The Voice,” “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” “The Chairman of the Board,” “Frankie” and “The Sultan of Swoon,” was by most accounts the greatest entertainer in the history of American pop culture, with a career that spanned more than five decades from the late 1930s to the 1990s. Dropping out of high school with no formal music training, he couldn’t read music, but he went from a teen idol to a living legend. His first hit, “All or Nothing at All,” foretold his future and summed up his philosophy and the arc of his career.

Much has been written about him as a cultural icon and the public has had an insatiable appetite for the salacious details of his personal life and all his exploits, womanizing, connections to the mob, leader of the Rat Pack and much more. It should not be forgotten that he was the winner of nine Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal. In addition, he spoke out against anti-Semitism and was involved in the civil rights movement as well as being very philanthropic.


Sinatra was no doubt a great pop singer, but I focus here on a simple question: Was he a jazz singer? I’ll answer that with another question: Does it snow in Vail? The unequivocal answer is YES!

Dropping out of high school with no formal music training, he couldn’t read music, but he went from a teen idol to a living legend.

So what is a “jazz singer”? While there is no rigid definition, the hallmark of jazz and therefore a jazz vocalist is to swing and improvise. Swing is hard to define, but according to, a performance swings when it uses “a rhythmically coordinated way … to command a visceral response from the listener (to cause feet to tap and heads to nod).” If you still don’t get what swing is, listen to “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers,” one of Sinatra’s greatest recorded tunes. If you still don’t get it, I suggest that you focus your listening on polka music!

To improvise in the world of jazz is to compose on the spot. Techniques such as singing behind the beat, accenting words and changing the phrasing (grouping lyrics in a way that is different than the composer wrote them, but suits the vocalist’s sensibility of how the lyrics should be interpreted), altering (and substituting) lyrics, all allow a vocalist to make a song his own. In essence, by using these techniques (not just as techniques, but as a way of communicating with the listener), the vocalist becomes the composer of a new song (based of course on the original one) and if the vocalist can make the listener tap his feet, click his figures or nod his head, you have a jazz vocalist.

Sinatra had swagger, and his half-cocked hat said that he was a jazz musician, but attitude and attire are not enough. He sang and recorded with many jazz greats. His phrasing and music sensibility were admired by great jazz musicians such as Count Basie, Miles Davis and Lester “Prez” Young and many more, but it is not the company you keep or the admirers that you have, but how you sing that determines your bon fides as a jazz singer. He recorded albums with the great Nelson Riddle with titles such as “Swing Easy,” “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers” and “A Swingin’ Affair,” but branding is one thing and really swinging is another.


Ultimately, you have to be able to deliver the goods and The Chairman of the Board could. Learning early in his career how to sustain long unbroken phrases without pausing to catch his breath allowed him to be adventurous with the phrases of a song. Sinatra listened to the jazz instrumental soloists he admired and used similar phrasing in his performances. Students of Sinatra’s catalog can point to numerous renditions of Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer lyrics that Sinatra “tweaked,” remaking these standards into his own. His diction was impeccable but yet had a conversational quality. It has been said that he had an incredible sense of time which allowed him to alter a phrase so the beat didn’t always coincide with the ending of a rhyme, but created a sense of sincerity making the lyrics more personal and causing the listener to believe the story that was being told. In fact he was quoted as saying: “When I sing, I believe. I’m honest.”

How ‘Gypsy Jazz’ moved from India to France to Vail

Our story begins in northern India more than 1,500 years ago when a small group of Hindi people began migrating from their homeland. Over centuries they made their way through the Balkans to Eastern Europe and ultimately throughout the world. They are the Roma or Romani people, known as Gypsies, a term many feel is used pejoratively against a people who have been persecuted wherever they have settled. Being predominately dark skinned, they have not been welcomed in their host countries and have continuously been on the move with a nomadic lifestyle. Originally thought to have come from Egypt, the term “Gypsy” was derived from the mistaken belief that this was their country of origin, but geneticists using the DNA of the Romani have conclusively traced their origins to the Punjab region of India.

The critically-acclaimed Django Festival All-Stars, who will play at Vail Jazz @ Vail Square on July 2

Blessed with a rich musical tradition, many earned their living by being nomadic entertainers and wherever they took refuge, they greatly influenced the music traditions of their hosts. This outsized impact can be heard in the flamenco music of Spain, derived directly from Romani music. Turkish, Russian and Eastern European music has been greatly influenced by Romani music (e.g., Liszt’s famous “Hungarian Rhapsodies”) and there is now a well-established technique of violin playing known as Gypsy Violin.

Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt, the son of a traveling entertainer, was born in Belgium in 1910 but grew up in France in a Gypsy settlement outside of Paris. Django began to play music at an early age, but his left hand was severely burned in a campfire when he was 18. He overcame the disability by inventing a unique fingering technique on the guitar, and by the ’30s, he was touring internationally, becoming one of the most important jazz guitarists of all time. As a founding member of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, he invented a style of jazz known as “Gypsy Jazz” that has been played for more than 80 years throughout the world. Django could not read music, but that didn’t matter. By using a guitar as a rhythm instrument (the player strums it in a distinctive percussive manner), Django was able to dispense with the drums and was able to combine two guitars (one rhythm and one melody), a violin, an accordion and a bass to create the classic “hot club” sound. With the emphasis on the second and fourth beat of each measure, Gypsy Jazz has a “swinging” toe-tapping feel that never fails to entertain.

The vocal sensation Cyrille Aimée, who will play at Vail Jazz Club Series on July 15 and Vail Jazz @ Vail Square on July 16

Branding is everything today, and in the world of Gypsy Jazz, there is no shortage of “Hot Club” bands here in the U.S. — the Hot Club of Detroit, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and even Cowtown, to name a few. In addition, there are many Django festivals in cities throughout the U.S. and Europe, with some straying from the authentic into a more commercialized form of the music, which is sometimes jokingly referred to as “Gadjo Jazz” (Romani for “non-Romani jazz”).

Carrying on the true tradition of Django is the Festival de Jazz Django Reinhardt presented annually in Samois-sur-Seine, France (the town where Django lived at the end of his life — he died tragically of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 43). This lovely town is venerated by the Gypsy Jazz community as being the place where authentic Django music is presented each year. With devotees (listeners and performers alike) from throughout the world descending on this beautiful village not far from Fontainebleau, it becomes the center of Gypsy Jazz for one week each year in late June.

So now you know the part of the story of how a unique music made its way from India to France, but where does Vail fit into the story? This year, Vail Jazz is pleased to celebrate the music of Django in Vail during our 21st annual Vail Jazz Festival by presenting two of the most compelling internationally known interpreters of Gypsy Jazz: The Django Festival All-Stars (6 p.m. July 2 at Vail Jazz at Vail Square in Lionshead); and vocalist Cyrille Aimee (9 p.m. July 15 at Cucina at the Lodge at Vail and at 6 p.m. July 16 at Vail Jazz at Vail Square in Lionshead). The All-Stars are a quintet with classic instrumentation and a commitment to swing hard and faithfully play the music of Django. Aimee is a Vail Jazz Festival favorite who grew up in Samois-sur-Seine and fell in love with Gypsy Jazz as a young girl. She is now entertaining audiences with a wide range of vocal stylings, including Gypsy Jazz, that have propelled her to the top of the world of jazz.


2015 Vail Jazz Festival programs + merchandise now available!

Check it out! The 21st Annual Vail Jazz Festival programs are hot off the press! Be sure to pick up your own copy, at Vail Daily newsstands and throughout the Vail Valley, for information on this summer’s performances and events.

Can’t wait to get your own copy? Click the button below and you can view our program online now!

Vail Jazz would like to give a big thank you to our generous sponsors and advertisers who helped to make this years program such a success.


Also, 2015 Vail Jazz Festival merchandise is now officially on sale! Check out our new online shop, and grab your Vail Jazz gear before the Festival starts – only 4 days away!

Riverwalk First Fridays debuts June 5th

The Riverwalk at Edwards is home to a new four-part concert series in summer 2015 – Riverwalk First Fridays. Held in Edwards’ delightfully scenic new gathering place for community functions and entertainment – the Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheatre – First Fridays will bring together local merchants and jazz greats from the Front Range for 4 iterations of what is sure to be a charming assembly of great music, local beer, wine, food and vendors.

Nestled on the banks of the Eagle River and flanked by Riverwalk’s shopping and dining options, Riverwalk First Fridays promises to deliver a casual, affordable experience on the first Fridays of June, July, August and September.

Executive Director Robin Litt on TV8

The series is sponsored by Alpine Bank, a longtime supporter of music and culture in the Vail Valley, and is produced by Vail Jazz and KZYR 97.7 The Zephyr. A free concert series that features kids activities and a weekly vendor theme, First Fridays presents a wonderful new multi-generational, family oriented entertainment option for mid-valley residents and visitors. And for the shopper looking to explore what Riverwalk has to offer, each week will feature a theme, where special promotions and activities will be built around two to three Riverwalk businesses. The themes consists of 4 summery variations on beauty, activities and family fun: June 5th – “Ultimate Camp Out,” July 3rd – “All American Kids,” August 7th – “Something Fishy,” and September 4th – Mountain Makeovers.”

Gates open at 4:30pm for vendor, food and beverage sales and performances will take place from 5:30-7:30pm. The party continues into the night on July 3rd and August 7th at Main Street Grill for an “Official After-Party,” complete with more live music.

The series will commence on June 5th with the salsa and Latin jazz group Ritmo Jazz Latino, one of Denver’s finest Latin bands. The band’s exotic blend of salsa, afro-cuban, and Latin jazz influences have collectively translated into the band’s stunning reputation on the Front Range music scene. Trumpeter Dr. Walter Barr leads the group, a well-known educator and clinician based out of The Metropolitan State University of Denver.

July 3 welcomes the upbeat blues and boogie-woogie songcraft of Lionel Young, a popular bluesman from the Denver area. Young’s All-American blues fiddlin’ will kick off the holiday weekend celebration with a style that hails from Mississipi and Kansas City. With violin virtuosity that has impressed the likes of Count Basie, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Paige/Robert Plant, and Doc Severenson, Lionel Young and his 4-piece band will get the crowd stomping into the holiday evening with a little extra soul in each step.

Otone Brass Band, an eight piece group comprised of seasoned pros of the Front Range, will bring a funky New Orleans flavor of street music to First Fridays on August 7th. Complete with trumpets, saxes, trombones and even a sousaphone, the occasion is a recipe for a funky dance party.

The series rounds out on September 4th with Brothers Keeper – the hometown boys. You can regularly find these blues rock veterans holding down the late night set at Shakedown Bar in Vail Village. With national tours and regular appearances alongside John Popper and Hall and Oates under their belts, the men of Brothers Keeper are an exceptional Blues Rock and American roots band that will bring a fervent close to Riverwalk First Fridays’ first year in town.

“The goal from the beginning with Riverwalk First Fridays was to utilize this ideal new music venue, and to give Edwards families a great reason to get together and enjoy incredible music, beer, wine, food and good company,” said Vail Jazz Development Manager Owen Hutchinson. “This series is well on its way to becoming just that.”

In addition to Alpine Bank, sponsorship for the new series comes from the Riverwalk Association, Gateway Real Estate, 1st and Main, Alpine Insurance, Bonfire Brewing, Vail Board of Realtors, Bloch & Chapleau, and Riverwalk Wine & Spirits. Vendor space is available with discounts for Riverwalk businesses. Businesses can sign on for one event or for all four at a discount. Vendors already confirmed include all sponsors listed above, plus Merle Norman Cosmetics, Kids Cottage, Sugar Bar, Rocky Mountain Silver and Beads, Old Forge Pizza, Vintage Magnolia, Bishop Orthodontics and more.

Vail Square lineup, new Club Series and live tunes at Sweet Basil!

Cartwheeling into its 21st year, the Vail Jazz Festival is admittedly a full-grown adult, but as evidenced by its lineup for this summer’s Thursday evening Vail Jazz @ Vail Square series, not to mention the brand new Vail Jazz Club Series and Vail Jazz at Sweet Basil events, the festival is unquestionably keeping things young and fresh.


The lineup of national and internationally acclaimed artists has just been confirmed. Beginning July 2 and ending Sept. 3, there will be 10 total performances, all taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays — rain or shine — under the jazz tent at Vail Square in Lionshead Village. Tickets are $15 general admission, $30 VIP or $199 for the 10-show VIP pass. Each event includes beverage tastings featuring 10th Mountain Whiskey, Bonfire Brewing and Ironstone Winery. Tickets and information available at or 888-VAIL-JAM. Here’s the lineup:

July 2: Django Festival All-Stars

In the lightning fingers style of legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, the five members of Django Festival All-Stars are bonafide Frenchmen and include a pair of six-finger sensations, a romping accordion and bass, sweet strains on the violin and a touch of high-speed vocal instrumentation. The quintet are regulars at Birdland in New York City and are bound to make a swingin’ debut in Vail.

July 9: Nicole Henry

Referred to as America’s current First Lady of Jazz, vocalist Nicole Henry has spent the last decade hypnotizing audiences with her sultry, versatile take on traditional jazz with a touch of soul, blues and gospel. She makes her Vail debut with her regular, uber-talented quartet.

July 16: Cyrille Aimee and Michael Valeanu Duo

Though she’s barely 30 years old, Cyrille Aimee has won awards all over the world for her hypnotizing vocal abilities. Hailing from a small village in France where she was lulled into the magic sounds of gypsy jazz, she returns to Vail for an intimate performance with fellow French New York City transplant and guitar master Michael Valeanu.

July 23: Tony DeSare

Based in New York, young singer and jazz pianist Tony DeSare returns to the Vail Square stage with a sound lying somewhere between Harry Connick Jr. and Billy Joel. He’s one of the hottest up-and-comers in jazz and in addition to his award-winning original music is known to tackle anything from the American Songbook to mash-ups fusing old pop hits with current top 40 favorites.

July 30: DIVA

It’s not every day that you come across a 15-piece big band comprised expressly of women. Based in New York, DIVA is an unstoppable ensemble led by drummer Sherrie Maricle. Their classic big band thunder is punctuated by spontaneity and improvisation.

Aug. 6: Hiromi: The Trio Project

Hailing from Japan, pianist Hiromi lights up the keys in a virtuosic style that defies even the broad confines of jazz with hints of rock and classical. When she’s not dazzling audiences with original melodies, she’s creating jingles for Nissan.

Aug. 13: Tommy Igoe Sextet

Splitting his time between San Francisco and New York City, Tommy Igoe leads his sextet from behind the powerful, pounding harmony of his drum kit. You might recognize his sound from Broadway’s original “The Lion King.” His range of beats fall somewhere between Count Basie and The Beatles.

Aug. 20: Bria Skonberg Quartet

Again defying stereotypes, this Canadian-born vocalist resides in New York City, and her main act is the trumpet. One of modern jazz’s most rapidly ascending stars, Bria Skonberg can heat up the brass like Louis Armstrong but has been known to infuse some humor into her hot jazz, holding notes while hula hooping on stage. The 31-year-old is soon to be gobbled up by every huge jazz festival in the world.

Aug. 27: Gregory Porter

California-born, Brooklyn-based baritone Gregory Porter got a full-ride scholarship for football in college but traded his shoulder pads in for a show-stopping jazz career. He won a Grammy last year for Best Jazz Vocal Album and delivers a soaring, sincere performance with a booming voice that will be recognizable for decades to come.

Sept. 3: Vail Jazz All-Stars, Alumni Quintet and House Band

It’s a triple bill for the grand finale of Vail Jazz @ Vail Square and the opening blowout for the multi-day Vail Jazz Party. The All-Stars are 12 of the nation’s most up-and-coming jazz prodigies fresh off of their intense workshop week. Their show is followed by the spontaneous grooves of five former Vail students who are now sizzling professional musicians. John Clayton leads the star-studded Vail Jazz Party House Band — Terell Stafford, Bill Cunliffe, Wycliffe Gordon, Lewis Nash and Dick Oatts — in an energetic, unforgettable set featuring the best of contemporary jazz.


Vail Jazz Club Series

Replacing the popular Jazz After series of the last two summers, this summer, Vail Jazz heats up Wednesday nights in July with an even more enticing, one-of-a-kind performance. The Lodge at Vail’s Cucina Rustica restaurant transforms into an intimate, New York City-style dinner lounge as select artists from the Vail Jazz @ Vail Square series take the stage for an indoor evening performance over cocktails and authentic Italian fare. Nicole Henry performs July 8, Cyrille Aimee on July 15, Tony DeSare July 22 and Five Play (two soloists and three rhythm members from DIVA) on July 29. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and music kicks off at 9 p.m. Tickets are limited and run $30 plus a $20 food and beverage minimum.

Vail Jazz at Sweet Basil

Most people were familiar with the famous Sunday evening Vail Jazz performances at Kelly Liken Restaurant starring local piano king Tony Gulizia. While Kelly Liken is gone, Gulizia’s gig is only going to be better as he brings in a rotating cast of jazz stars to accompany him at a delicious new venue: Sweet Basil. What better place to enjoy the sweet sounds of jazz over dinner, a cocktail or dessert than in Vail Village’s most beloved restaurant? Music begins at 9 p.m. every Sunday from June 28 to Aug. 30. Entry is free.

Frank Sinatra 100th birthday bash

In celebration of the late, great Frank Sinatra and what would be his 100th birthday, famed vocalist Curtis Stigers returns to Vail with the H2 Big Band for A Swingin’ Affair, a tribute performance covering Sinatra’s classic songbook’s original Nelson Riddle arrangements. This one-time event kicks off July 13 at 6 p.m. at the Lodge at Vail with cocktails, appetizers and silent auction, followed by dinner and what is sure to be an exceptionally moving performance. Prices start at $200 and all proceeds benefit Vail Jazz educational programs.


Vail Jazz Escalates to New Heights in 2015

Tickets are on sale now for a summer of iconic jazz stars, sizzling up-and-coming artists and plenty of female power 

Vail Jazz is sporting a brand new look just in time to show off its star-studded summer lineup, the tickets for which are now on sale via the revamped, user-friendly Website,

When long-time jazz fan Howard Stone first envisioned the Vail Jazz Festival in Vail, Colo.,  it came to fruition 21 years ago as a one-weekend extravaganza over Labor Day Weekend featuring a small but impressive lineup of the genre’s A-list artists. It was designed to be a one-time affair. The vibrant annual event, the dynamic, year-round organization, the product with robust lasting potential, the very concept of a brand … none of these things were on the table at all with Stone’s original vision.

But then the people spoke. The force of the music spread. Why not have a multi-day live music blowout every Labor Day weekend? How about weekly concerts throughout the summer? How about bringing in the country’s top teenage musical prodigies to groom, ensuring that jazz never dies?

Before Stone or anyone else knew it, the Vail Jazz Foundation was born and blossoming so quickly it soon became a solid, colorful, magnificent tree. It became a tree that, like the genre of jazz itself, has many, many branches, with new ones growing every year. Today the Foundation is a smooth-running vessel operated by a driven board of directors and a talented team of full-time staff members who bring live jazz and musical lessons of all variety to big and small stages, private homes and classrooms throughout the year. Vail Jazz is a brand. It is a brand that stands for quality … the highest quality of music there is.

“It’s real jazz, first and foremost,” Stone says. “Even some of the greatest jazz festivals have become much more pop music festivals with a jazz accent. Maybe it’s my stubbornness, maybe it’s my passion, I just feel like this music is so great it deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. Once we started down this road, we wanted to perpetuate the art form through performance and education. We’ve stayed totally true to that. The thing to emphasize about any one Vail Jazz event is that it’s a really, really good time.”

The 21st Annual Vail Jazz Festival displays the scope of the jazz tree’s broad reach – from swing to reggae, blues to country to soul – there are more colors to the tree’s every branch and more fresh blooms than ever before.

The festival kicks off with the Thursday Vail Jazz @Vail Square series on July 2 with newcomers Django Festival All-Stars featuring Samson Schmitt, Ludovic Beier and Pierre Blanchard, regulars on the New York City jazz circuit and hailed for having some of the “fastest fingers in music.” It’s a five-piece band fueled by  a pair of lightning-fast guitars, a fiddle, an accordion and a stand-up bass. The series continues every Thursday through Sept. 3, bringing in time-tested Vail favorites like the groovy, drum-driven tunes of the Tommy Igoe Sextet (whose name you might recognize from “The Lion King” Broadway musical) and young pianist/vocalist Tony DeSare with his award-winning original songs and creative fusions of jazz classics with current pop hits.

Vail Jazz is also famous for introducing up-and-coming artists right before they hit the global radar. This summer features sizzling sensations like Canadian trumpet player/vocalist Bria Skonberg and the all-women big band DIVA, both of which also speak to the 2015 Vail Jazz Festival’s ample representation of female talent.

As always, the summer culminates with the explosive grand finale, the 21st Annual Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day Weekend. Comprised of five nights and four days of wall-to-wall music, the Party stars the Vail Jazz House Band (John Clayton, Wycliffe Gordon, TerelLStafford, Lewis Nash, Bill Cunliffe and newcomer Dick Oatts), Roberta Gambarini and Her Trio, George Cables Trio, soloists Niki Haris, Jeff Hamilton, Howard Levy, Russell Malone, Shelley Berg and many, many more. Headliners for the weekend include the Vail Jazz Alumni Quintet, made up of graduates of the Vail Jazz Workshop.

The entire festival aims to honor the best of jazz, introducing and skyrocketing young artists, hosting one-of-a-kind performances by jazz icons and paying tribute to immortal legends. Every Wednesday evening in July, Vail Jazz brings the all-new Club Series to Cucina Rustica in the Lodge at Vail for an intimate, dinner lounge performance with nationally acclaimed artists such as Nicole Henry and Five Play. As far as tributes to legends, one standout event is A Swinging Affair, on July 13, Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday celebration, dinner and tribute concert starring renowned vocalist Curtis Stigers and the H2 Big Band at the Lodge at Vail.

Yes, it’s going to be a jaw-dropping, ear candy-indulging, girl-powered summer of music. Tickets are limited and on sale now.

Vail Jazz festival’s winter series continues Sunday

VAIL — Tickets are on sale for Vail Jazz Winter Series live performances, which take place through early April. Featured performances include a soiree with Marcus Roberts on Sunday, as well as a trio of performances at Cucina at the Lodge at Vail. Sunday will be a very special performance by Roberts, who Wynton Marsalis calls “the greatest American musician most people have never heard of.” His impressive technical ability and remarkable interpretive skills will be showcased at this intimate event. Limited tickets are available.

The Gypsy Jazz Jam on Feb. 28 kicks off the new Cucina series, which highlights Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo and Andreas Oberg, three of today’s most outstanding guitarists in the French Gypsy swing style. This series is a great way to catch dinner and a show in the Vail Valley, and harkens back to those smoky bars and bistro corners of Paris, when Django Reinhardt first laid the foundations of this style in the 1940s. Nearly 80 years later, torchbearers of this captivating music play on, supplementing the classic sound with the jazz idioms of today.

Hammond B3 organ extraordinaire Tony Monaco will return to Vail with his signature Jimmy Smith sound on March 27. Vail Jazz and Cucina will turn the restaurant into a jazz club for a night of Monaco’s fiery, explosive flavor of jazz.

The Allan Finney Sextet will hold its CD release party on April 2 as a lively conclusion to the Vail Jazz Winter Series. You’ve seen him grace the stages of the Vail Jazz Party, lead bands throughout the state of Colorado and share the stage with performers such as Curtis Stigers, Tony Monaco and Tony DeSare. Now, Finney celebrates the release of his first CD with Eric Gunnison on keyboard, Bob Rebholz on sax, Mark Simon on bass, Bill Kopper on guitar and Justin Allison on vocals.

Vail Jazz’s new partnership with local Edwards eatery eat! drink! continues Feb. 20 with Vail vocal favorite, Cyrille Aimee. Aimee will kick off the evening by celebrating the composers and songs of New Orleans, the historic epicenter of jazz. The evening continues with The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s special premiere of the “New Orleans Jazz Market”. A Salute to Betty Carter on March 6 will feature Benny Green, a frequently featured artist at the annual Vail Jazz Party, and vocalist Charenee Wade. Carter blazed her own trail as one of the most original jazz vocalists of our time, known for her flawless phrasing, uncanny unpredictability and signature glissando. Expect to hear familiar favorites from Carter’s legacy.

“With the expansion of our community outreach activities this year, Vail Jazz is offering this incredible webcast series as an accessible, informal option for music lovers in our community to gather and enjoy great jazz performances,” said Robin Litt, executive director. “While live concerts are core to our summer festival and winter series, this series is a great opportunity for those infrequent jazz listeners to explore the genre in a really fun, casual way. Our partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center speaks to a shared goal of both of our organizations, to expand the audience of this exceptional American art form. Come early to secure your seats for this growing series of shows!”

Visit or call 970-479-6146 to learn more.

Catch live jazz at Solantro’s in Vail

world-champsVAIL — Enjoy nights of free live jazz in the heart of Vail Village as part of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships each night through Saturday.

Jazz, a truly American art form, will permeate through Vail Village each night during the Championships festivities.

Solantro’s at the top of Bridge Street (formerly The Tap Room) is host to live music each night from 9 to 11 p.m. And while there’s live concerts at Championships Plaza every night, guests and locals can enjoy the intimate setting that Solantro’s provides each night starting at 9 p.m. with free live jazz.


On Monday, Denver saxophone sensation Bob Rebholz will join Justin Allison. The two will soon release a much-anticipated CD together. On Tuesday, the Delta Sonics Duo will perform. On Wednesday, Gary Regina Tranceport will perform. The duo is made up of the talented saxophonist Gary Regina with local drummer Brian Loftus. Regina may even show his extraordinary talent of playing two saxes at one time. Thursday brings the return of Justin Allison and Bob Rebholz. On Friday, catch the After Midnight Trio of Roger Campbell (clarinet), Jerry Weiss (keyboard) and Ced Forsyth (bass). The trio is another regular fixture during Vail Jazz Festival’s Sunday series, Jazz @ The Market, and in demand on the Denver music scene. On Saturday, Gary Regina Tranceport will perform again.

Vail Jazz and the Vail Valley Foundation are partnering to put on the series. Vail Jazz continues its winter series with a soiree on Feb. 15 featuring Marcus Roberts. For more information and a full schedule of events, go to visit For information about Vail Jazz, go to

Vail Jazz presents live webcasts in Edwards

EDWARDS — Vail Jazz is hosting live webcasts of Jazz at Lincoln Center performances featuring some of today’s most notable jazz artists. Watching the pros at work from a few thousand miles away with a glass of wine and good company is a wonderful way to combine front-row seats with an intimate viewing experience.

Local Edwards eatery eat! drink! is teaming up with Vail Jazz throughout the winter season to pair live webcasts from Jazz at Lincoln Center with boutique wines and delectable small plates. The series kicked off on in mid December and continues Thursday evening with Papo Vazquez Band of Mighty Pirate Troubadours at 7:30 pm. A veteran trombonist and bandleader, Vazquez presents a seven-piece Afro Puerto Rican jazz combo that melds Caribbean percussion with a blazing jazz horn section, delivering a hyperkinetic party with spirited and soulful improvisation.

February and March dates have just been added.

• Feb. 13th features Dianne Reeves, the most awarded female jazz vocalist of all time. Reeves’ signature sound and fondness for love songs will make for a perfect pre-Valentine’s Day performance. Reeves will treat audiences to an intimate evening of music and storytelling, delivered as only she can.

• Feb. 20th brings The New Orleans Songbook with Vail vocal favorite, Cyrille Aimee. Aimee, described as having “a voice like fine whiskey — oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness,” will kick off the evening by celebrating the composers and songs of New Orleans, the historic epicenter of jazz. The evening continues with The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s special premiere of the “New Orleans Jazz Market.”

• A Salute to Betty Carter on March 6th will feature Benny Green, a frequently featured artist at the annual Vail Jazz Party, and vocalist Charenee Wade. Carter blazed her own trail as one of the most original jazz vocalists of our time, known for her flawless phrasing, uncanny unpredictability and signature glissando. Expect to hear familiar favorites of Carter’s legacy.

“With the expansion of our community outreach activities this year, Vail Jazz is offering this incredible webcast series as an accessible, informal option for music lovers in our community to gather and enjoy great jazz performances,” said Robin Litt, executive director. “While live concerts are core to our summer festival and winter series, this series is a great opportunity for those infrequent jazz listeners to explore the genre in a really fun, casual way. Our partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center speaks to a shared goal of both of our organizations, to expand the audience of this exceptional American art form. There’s something special about the combination of eat! drink!’s cozy atmosphere and the music of Wynton Marsalis and these fabulous musicians, albeit from afar!”

Tickets are on sale for Vail Jazz Winter Series live performances, which take place through early April. Featured performances include soirées with Marcus Roberts on Feb. 15 and Diego Figueiredo on March 13, each at private homes as well as a trio of performances at Cucina at the Lodge at Vail. Gypsy Jazz Jam on Feb. 28 highlights Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo and Andreas Oberg, three of today’s most outstanding guitarists in the French Gypsy swing style, Hammond B3 organ extraordinaire Tony Monaco will return to Vail with his signature Jimmy Smith sound on March 27, and finally the Allan Finney Sextet will hold their CD release party on April 2 as a lively conclusion to the Vail Jazz Winter Series.

More information is available at or by calling 970-479-6146.