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 www.vailjazz.org or by calling 970-479-6146.

Vail Jazz expands winter lineup

VAIL — Vail Jazz announced its winter series lineup this week and it has more live performances than years past. The series includes intimate soirees in private homes, jazz club-style performances in the heart of Vail Village and, new this year, Vail Jazz hosts live webcasts of Jazz at Lincoln Center performances, featuring some of the most notable jazz artists on the scene today. New partnerships with local venues are highlighted in the Vail Jazz Winter Series with Cucina at the Lodge at Vail as the primary winter venue for live music, along with eat! drink! as the host of the live webcasts.

“The lineup of winter artists mirrors what Vail Jazz is known for — exceptional performances presented in intimate and intriguing locales,” said Howard Stone, artistic director. “We are so fortunate to bring such an impressive lineup of top jazz performers all of whom are compelling and captivating entertainers. These performances will cover a varied spectrum of appealing jazz styles that are sure to please audiences, whether a hardcore jazz fan or just someone looking for a great musical experience.”

LIVE PERFORMANCES

The live performances kick off on Dec. 26 in partnership with the Vilar Performing Arts Center, with the presentation of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. A hard-edged funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop band led by New Orleans native Trombone Shorty, the group employs hip-hop beats, rock dynamics and jazz improvisation. Beginning his career as a bandleader at the young age of 6, and then touring internationally at age 12, he spent his teens playing with various brass bands throughout New Orleans and touring worldwide with Lenny Kravitz. Tickets for this performance are available at www.vilarpac.org.

On Feb. 28 Gypsy Jazz Jam, featuring three of today’s most renown guitarists, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo with special guest Andreas Oberg, will perform at Cucina. The sound of Jazz Manouche, or Gypsy Jazz, has been whispering its way out of smoky bars and bistro corners since French guitarist Django Reinhardt first laid its foundations in the 1940s. Almost 80 years later, torch bearers of this captivating music play on, supplementing the classic sound with the jazz idioms of today. Guitarists Vignola, Raniolo and Oberg have risen to the top in the most recent generation of Gypsy Jazz greats, playing Reinhardt’s originals, the American Songbook and their own creations. Tickets go on sale on Jan. 5 and are available for one or both sets.

Ever popular Hammond B3 organist Tony Monaco will return to Vail’s Cucina on March 27 to perform with his touring trio. After finishing a series of world tours with Pat Martino, Monaco brings his own fiery, explosive flavor of jazz to the table, backed by Fareed Haque on guitar and Greg Fundis on drums.

The season of jazz at Cucina comes to a close on April 2 with a performance by the Allan Finney Sextet and the celebration of their first collaborative CD. A longtime Vail local, Finney will release his debut album with a raucous, celebratory blowout. The evening will feature Eric Gunnison on keyboard, Bob Rebholz on sax, Mark Simon on bass, Bill Kopper on guitar and Justin Allison on vocals.

A winter soiree will take place on Feb. 15 at a private home in Singletree, featuring Marcus Roberts on piano as well as cocktails, appetizers and an intimate concert by one of today’s most well respected jazz pianists.

WEBCASTS

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 small plates. “Big Band Holidays” with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will broadcast today at 6 p.m., with special guest vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, followed by “Birth of the American (Jazz) Orchestra” on Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. January’s program will wrap with “Papo Vazquez Band of Mighty Pirate Troubadours” on Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. February and March dates will be added soon.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 5 at www.vailjazz.org or by calling 970-479-6146. For more information, visit www.vailjazz.org.

Vail Jazz Winter Largest Yet

By Thomas Dobrez for KZYR

Vail Jazz announces its winter series lineup with more live performances than ever before. From intimate soirées in private homes to jazz club-style performances in the heart of Vail Village, and new this year, Vail Jazz hosts live webcasts of Jazz at Lincoln Center performances featuring some of the most notable jazz artists on the scene today.  New partnerships with exciting venues are highlighted in the Vail Jazz Winter Series with Cucina at the Lodge at Vail as the primary winter venue for live music, along with eat! drink! as the host of the live webcasts.

The live performances kick off on Friday, December 26th in partnership with the Vilar Performing Arts Center, with the presentation of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. A hard-edged funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop band led by New Orleans native Trombone Shorty, the group employs hip-hop beats, rock dynamics, and jazz improvisation. Beginning his career as a bandleader at the young age of six, then touring internationally at age 12, he spent his teens playing with various brass bands throughout New Orleans and touring worldwide with Lenny Kravitz. Tickets for this performance are available at www.vilarpac.org

February 28th will bring the Gypsy Jazz Jam to Cucina, featuring three of today’s most renown guitarists, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo with special guest Andreas Oberg. The sound of Jazz Manouche, or Gypsy Jazz, has been whispering its way out of smoky bars and bistro corners since French guitarist Django Reinhardt first laid its foundations in the 1940s. Almost 80 years later, torch bearers of this captivating music play on, supplementing the classic sound with the jazz idioms of today. Guitarists Vignola, Raniolo and Oberg have risen to the top in the most recent generation of Gypsy Jazz greats, playing Reinhardt’s originals, the American Songbook and stunning compositions of their own creation. Jaw-dropping technique and a wildly diverse repertoire make this performance a highlight of the winter season. Tickets go on sale on January 5, 2015 and are available for one set or both sets.

Ever popular Hammond B3 organist, Tony Monaco will return to Vail’s Cucina on March 27th to perform with his touring trio, including Fareed Haque on guitar and Greg Fundis on drums. Tony “does not swing, smolder or smoke… he burns,” says Critical Jazz Review. Mentored by the legendary Jimmy Smith in what is considered to be the more classic style of jazz organ, Tony Monaco has received considerable acclaim in the past decade as a colossus of the Hammond B3. After finishing a series of world tours with Pat Martino, Monaco brings his own fiery, explosive flavor of jazz to the table, backed by Fareed Haque on guitar and Greg Fundis on drums.

The season of jazz at Cucina comes to a close on April 2nd with a performance by the Allan Finney Sextet and the celebration of their first collaborative CD. You’ve seen him grace the stages of the Vail Jazz Party, lead bands throughout the state of Colorado, and share the stage with the likes of Curtis Stigers, Tony Monaco and Tony DeSare.  A longtime Vail local, Allan Finney will release his debut album with a raucous, celebratory blowout like no musical gathering Vail has seen yet. The evening will feature Eric Gunnison on keyboard, Bob Rebholz on sax, Mark Simon on bass, Bill Kopper on guitar and Justin Allison on vocals.

The popular winter soirées will take place on February 15th and March 13th. February’s event will be hosted in a private home in Singletree, featuring Marcus Roberts on piano and will include cocktails, hors d’oeurvres and an intimate concert by one of today’s most well respected jazz pianists. A superb pianist with a deep love for New Orleans jazz and blues, Roberts has created a sparkling career out of his impressive technical ability, his remarkable interpretive skills and a decade-spanning musical partnership with Wynton Marsalis. In fact, Marsalis deemed Roberts “the greatest American musician most people have never heard of”.

Diego Figueiredo will present an evening of Latin guitar on March 13th in a soirée at a private home in Lake Creek. This Brazilian guitar phenom rose through the ranks of classical, jazz and his native music of Brazil through the fervent application of one fundamental musical principle: passion. A whirlwind of unprecedented speed and stirring musicality, Figueiredo shines a playful, heart-warming light on jazz, bossa nova and samba standards. Figueiredo is joined by University of Colorado Professor of Bass, Bijoux Barbosa.

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 incredible boutique wines and delectable small plates. Big Band Holidays with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will broadcast on December 18th at 6pm MST, with special guest vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, followed by Birth of the American (Jazz) Orchestra on January 9th at 6pm. January’s program will wrap with Papo Vazquez Band of Mighty Pirate Troubadours on January 22nd at 7:30 pm. February and March dates will be added soon.

Artistic Director Howard Stone announced the lineup for the Winter Jazz Series noting, ”The lineup of winter artists mirrors what Vail Jazz is known for – exceptional performances presented in intimate and intriguing locales.  We are so fortunate to bring such an impressive lineup of top jazz performers all of whom are compelling and captivating entertainers.  These performances will cover a varied spectrum of appealing jazz styles that are sure to please audiences, whether a hardcore jazz fan or just someone looking for a great musical experience.”

 

The Vail Jazz Party brings non-stop music to Vail through Monday

Depending on how you feel about the genre, 35 hours of listening to jazz sounds like either a dream come true or a great way to cure insomnia.

“People think they don’t like jazz,” said part-time Vail resident and longtime jazz fan Rosemary Heller. “(But those) people have never really been to a jazz performance. I think it’s really important to see live jazz performed so that they can see the interaction between the musicians, see how exciting and dynamic it is to see music created right in front of them.”

This Labor Day weekend, jazz will be played and made live from early morning to late evening during the Vail Jazz Party, which closes out the Vail Jazz Festival’s 20th anniversary summer. The Vail Jazz Party lives up to its name with concerts, tributes, jam sessions and more for a five-day, non-stop jukebox of jazz music. There’s a song or a riff for everyone at the Vail Jazz Party, and for the hardcore fans, the difficult part isn’t deciding what to attend, but what one must leave out.

“People always say to me, ‘There’s so much’,” said Howard Stone, chairman of the board and artistic director of the Vail Jazz Festival. “They almost get crazed about it. I advise people to take the program and pick the stuff that really looks interesting to you. Out of the 35 hours of music over the weekend, you could choose to listen to 10 or 15 hours. A lot of people during the daytime will come to the tent and they’ll listen to an hour or two of music, then go for a hike, then come back and listen to more music.”

Jazz stars of today and tomorrow

The Vail Jazz Party got going with the Thursday evening session at the Jazz Tent in Vail Square with alumni from the Vail Jazz Workshop, which brings some of the most talented high school students to Vail every summer to learn and listen from professional jazz musicians. John Clayton, education director for the Vail Jazz Foundation, said these prodigious players might not be able to vote, but they’ve already won over many Vail Jazz Party crowds in the past.

“Standing ovations, almost every time,” Clayton said. “More than anything, (the audience) is just blown away by the level of the music, that just happens to be played by people under 20 years old.”

One workshop alumni who performed Thursday is Justin Kauflin, who’s made a big name for himself since his high school days. In his early 20s, Kauflin, a blind jazz pianist, found a mentor in legendary trumpeter Clark Terry. This relationship is chronicled in the documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On,” which will be screened today at 2 p.m. at Antlers at Vail. The film follows Terry, then in his late 80s, as he starts to lose his vision while teaching Kauflin. Because of this, the two begin to connect on a level deeper than music.

Clayton said Kauflin’s captivating key strokes were evident early on.

“(He) was quite shy, but he stepped up to the plate when it was time to perform,” Clayton said. “I don’t know if it’s so much about his style. If you stop and think about what draws you to music at a concert, it’s always the heart, it’s always the soul. So what if you hear really fast cool notes, so what if you hear something that’s really loud. But when someone moves you inside, you never forget that. I think that’s what people experience when they hear someone like Justin.”

Live, jammin’ and jivin’

After the “Keep On Keepin’ On” screening, tonight will feature a tribute to Terry. This is one of four tribute sessions throughout the weekend. Famed vocalist Sarah Vaughan will be honored Saturday night and Benny Goodman will be remembered in melody on Sunday evening. There will also be a drum session tipping the beat to drummer and bandleader Mel Lewis on Saturday. The tributes mix live music with video footage of the stars’ past performances.

“Current members of the jazz audience only know their names but never had a chance to see them perform live,” Stone said. “The tributes are a way to interact with the audience but at the same time educate them. … Everyone knows Benny Goodman, everyone knows he was the ‘King of Swing,’ but what’s the story behind that? What did he sound like live? What did he look like while he was performing?”

In between listening to jazz greats from the past and the potential future, the Vail Jazz Party offers plenty of opportunities to see some of the best jazz musicians of the present. Throughout the weekend there are morning, afternoon and evening sessions, and even late-night jam sessions that go into the wee hours just for the night owls. These jam sessions are a free-wheeling ride of improvised tunes and sonic surprises. Well-known jazz vocalist Curtis Stigers said when it comes to jazz, the singer isn’t always the one who gets the spotlight.

“In the jazz world, the jazz singer is like the red-headed stepchild,” Stigers said. “He doesn’t really fit into a bunch of players.”

Still, someone has to sing the words, and the jam sessions are a chance for Stigers to stretch those vocal chords in a new way. Oddly enough, Stigers said a vocalist practices scatting for jam sessions by mimicking other instruments, like the horn.

“The nice thing about jazz is we all share the same language,” Stigers said. “We can all speak jazz to each other on stage.”

For Clayton, a legendary jazz bassist in his own right, a jam session is a chance for musicians to “let their hair down,” he said.

“It’s not organized, it’s not calculated,” Clayton said. “Think of when you’re a child playing with other kids in the playground. You don’t have an agenda. You show up at the playground and there’s the jungle gym, there’s the swing, there’s the slide and there’s the sandbox. You just do your own thing. … That’s why they call it play, not work.”

Spiritual sounds in the mountains

Even if you stay up for the late night jam sessions, make sure to set your alarm for Sunday morning’s Gospel Prayer Meetin’, set for 9 a.m. at the Jazz Tent at Vail Square. Featuring vocalists Niki Haris and Ann Hampton Callaway, the gospel music session is often the most popular concert of the entire Labor Day weekend. Haris spent decades performing for pop audiences, both as a backup singer for Madonna and as a solo artist with her own club hits. Haris’ father was a jazz pianist and she initially returned to her jazz roots to be closer to him.

“Jazz was a way my father and I could bond again through music,” Haris said. “Whenever I’m on stage singing jazz, I’m so grateful that people still want to hear me. It was (first) a way for me to connect with my father and I happened to know the songs. Now it’s time for me to do the music justice and not have it just be an homage to my dad.”

Haris also grew up with gospel and calls it the “good news” spoken from a chorus of voices.

“I always took a spiritual approach to all the music I sing, including jazz,” Haris said. “If it’s not touching and reaching me on a real, visceral and cellular level, if it stays too much in my head, it doesn’t work for me. I sing from a place that’s from my heart.”

Haris said the best thing about the Vail Jazz Party is listening to jazz and gospel while surrounded by the mountains, which she calls “God’s natural music.”

“You can just walk in Vail and there’s music everywhere,” Haris said. “That’s the reason to go to this festival. You’ve got Mother Nature’s music and you’ve got Coltrane. (To me), that’s called heaven.”

The idea of music in your ear while looking out at the mountains does sound pretty heavenly. When you think about it, we can always listen in on the mountains, but hearing live jazz from some of the best musicians in the world only comes one weekend a year. Even if you only plan to listen for a song, a session or perhaps the whole 35 hours, the Vail Jazz Party will keep on playing until the last minute of summer. Just don’t party too hard; school starts up for some the day after.

Tony DeSare lights up the Vail Jazz stage twice this summer

Just as comfortable covering Pharrell as he is old standards from The Great American Songbook, Tony DeSare has a talent for putting his own style stamp on just about anything.

As evidenced by winning first place in the 2013 USA Songwriting Contest, the 37-year-old New Yorker is a solid composer, too.

En route to becoming the next Harry Connick Jr., DeSare cannot remember a time that he didn’t love music. “My dad played guitar and sang in the house every night. I started on violin when I was 8 years old. I fell in love with the piano at 10 years old. I started playing and then performing and before I knew it, I was getting paid to perform at bars and hotels,” says DeSare, who became a father himself last year.

DeSare constantly finds fresh ways to make the keys dance while belting out classics and originals, not to mention several unexpected covers, from Prince to current radio hit, Bastille’s Pompeii.

Three of his recordings were ranked among Billboard’s top 10 jazz albums and his original songs have been handpicked for a number of film soundtracks over the last few years. It was his tune “Chemistry” that won the USA Songwriting Competition, placing first in the jazz category and second overall.

Earlier this year he was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall (one of his regular haunts) with New York Pops for Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday Show.

Around this time last year, DeSare spent the day playing pianos all over the streets of New York City– in Central Park, Time Square, in Brooklyn and Queens. The pianos were scattered throughout the five boroughs for a project by Sing for Hope, a charity organization that strives to make art accessible to everyone. There was a total of 88 individually painted pianos on the streets for two weeks, after which the organization donated them to schools, hospitals and community centers. DeSare went out on his own early one Sunday morning with a couple of camera guys dressed like tourists and hit about 15 of the pianos, sitting down at each to play Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano.”

“The thing that struck me the most is how every place is such a different experience. Everyone was walking by and if the music caught them enough to stop, they did. All walks of life stopped and shared the moment together. That was the coolest thing,” DeSare says. “That song is almost 100 years old but it’s still enjoyable to old people, young people … all people. It’s an excellent reminder of the power of song.”

The video documenting the experience has gotten tens of thousands of views on DeSare’s YouTube channel, as have several of his other mashups and covers that cannot be found anywhere else.

When selecting a song to perform in a video – such as his jazzed up mesh of Pharrell’s “Happy” and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” DeSare chooses only numbers he believes will take on new life once given his bonafide twist. “In the case of the ‘Happy’ video, it was the thought of putting those two songs together – Bobby McFerrin’s, which I loved when I was a kid, and the Pharrell hit. It’s a cultural match, which is the musical reason, but it’s also just the fun and joy of it,” he says.

Fun and enjoyment are unsurprisingly two of the characteristics that resonate during DeSare’s live performance, which typically include several jazz standards from the Great American Songbook as well the singer’s heartfelt, high-energy originals and perhaps a doo-wopped rock track by Bob Dylan, Elton John or Prince.

“I’ve got different stories to go with the songs. I come from a school that believes the process of music should be entertaining and have enough to it along with the presentation of music to make it fun,” he says.

Don’t miss DeSare’s Vail debut at 6 p.m. July 17 in Lionshead for Jazz @Vail Square. Jazz Tent tickets are $15 or $30 for VIP seats (including front of the tent seating, access to 1st Bank VIP Lounge and a drink ticket).

For more information, visit vailjazz.org.

Also, on July 16, DeSare and his trio will perform at the Vail Jazz 20thAnniversary Benefit Dinner. Tickets and tables for this special evening are available for $150 and $1,500, respectively.

Hot young artists on the bill for Vail jazz summer

The 20th anniversary festival lineup exemplifies that jazz is a genre embraced by all ages.

Anyone who thinks jazz is a fading breed of music embraced only by the older generations has obviously not witnessed the bouncing mass of revelers at a Red Baraat concert. The eight-piece “party band” from Brooklyn makes its local debut July 31 at Jazz @ Vail Square.

Pumping out an eclectic combination of brass funk, North Indian bhangra rhythms and go-go, in spite of forming just six years ago, Red Baraat has already landed gigs at the White House, the New Orleans and Montreal Jazz Festivals as well as big rock festivals such as Bonnaroo.

Band leader and Dhol player Sunny Jain believes his band’s quick success and presence at such a variety of large scale performances is due to the phenomenon that the very definition of “jazz” is its inherent knack for transformation.

“The idea of what jazz is has constantly developed and changed,” Jain says. “It’s really a main element of the band. Several of us come from a jazz background, bringing the idea of improvisation, in-the-moment spontaneity, the conversation and dialogue within the music.

In terms of what we do relating to the audience, it’s to make sure we’re passionate about what we’re doing onstage, producing joyous music that includes everyone. It’s a party regardless of how old, young or mixed the audience. It doesn’t matter if there’s 10 people or a thousand people out there. Our prime goal is to deliver the music and bring our passion.”

Passion is the overarching characteristic of the otherwise eclectic lineup of artists in this summer’s 20th Anniversary season of the Vail Jazz Festival, which kicks off July 3 with the six-string talent of guitar duet Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, who also pride themselves on departing from the jazz tradition, intermixing their set of classic jazz tunes with say, a comical but amazingly precise rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

New York-based pianist Tony Desare, who performs at Jazz @ Vail Square on July 17, recently performed his personally stylized versions of American Songbook tunes for Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday show at Carnegie Hall, but also plays awardwinning originals and regularly posts his unique jazzed up renditions of current pop tunes (Bastille’s Pompeii, a clever fusion of Pharrell’s Happy and Bobby Ferrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy) on his YouTube channel.

“I come from the school of thought that the process of music should be entertaining and moving. It should be fun,” Desare says.

The Vail Jazz Festival’s 20th anniversary begins June 22 with live performances every Sunday at the Vail Farmers Market and starting July 3 every Thursday, culminating in the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day Weekend.

For more information, visit vailjazz.org.

Thursday evenings are set for jazz this summer

VAIL — There’s no mistaking the sounds of a soulful summer in the air on Thursday evenings in Vail — the distinctice and familiar ring of world-class jazz music.

Beginning April 15, tickets are on sale for this summer’s Thursday night Jazz @ Vail Square concert series. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Vail Jazz Festival, the Thursday concerts offer an A-list lineup of artists.

New this year, Jazz @ Vail Square offers two-tiered pricing for seating under the tent. General Admission tickets are $15 per show or $30 for VIP seating, which includes priority seating, access to the VIP lounge area and a drink voucher. Information available at www.vailjazz.org or 888-824-5526. Passes for the nine-performance series are also available.

July 3

Kicking things off at Vail Square, guitar virtuoso duo Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo return with their quick-fingered, quick-witted performance covering everything from jazz classics to rock hits, all with a humorous flair.

July 10

Also returning by popular demand, the foot-stomping, dance-inspiring rhythms of conga drumming sensation Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.

July 17

Young singer and jazz pianist Tony DeSare hits the stage with energy described to lie somewhere between that of Harry Connick Jr. and Billy Joel. He’s one of the hottest up-and-comers in jazz at the moment and plays Vail for the first time.

July 24

Long-time Vail Jazz favorite and world-renowned pianist Marcia Ball returns with New Orleans-infused, feel-good melodies. See why they call her “saucy.”

July 31

When a New Orleans brass band collides with the strains of Eastern Indian horns and percussion in the form of a large but harmonious ensemble, it looks and sounds something like Red Baraat. Also likely to instigate some dancing.

Aug. 7

Jamaica’s one and only Monty Alexander brings his addictive jazz piano and the classic grooves of a full band, the Harlem-Kingston Express, from their usual setup at New York City’s Lincoln Center to those lucky to witness the experience in the tent at Vail Square.

Aug. 14

Guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli returns for a rich and riveting performance along with his quartet, including brother Martin on bass.

Aug. 21

Expect to dance, swing-style. Artist TBA.

Aug. 28

It’s a triple bill for the series’ grand finale. Resident favorites, The Vail Jazz Party House Band wrap up Jazz @ Vail Square with a white-hot performance preceded by the nation’s top lineup of teenage protégés, the Vail Jazz All-Stars and also the now-famous All-Star alums. The performance, while closing the Thursday night series, kicks off the 20th annual Vail Jazz Party.

Turning 20 means going big: Summer lineup released for the Vail Jazz Festival’s 20th season

Twenty years ago, the Vail Jazz Festival planted its heels into Vail and with a soaring but humble brigade of trumpets, bass, drums and guitars, launching an event that nobody would envision snowballing to the proportions it has reached this season.

Growing from a Labor Day weekend lineup of performances to a summer-long event featuring weekly performances by some of the country and even world’s top jazz musicians, the Vail Jazz Festival is poised to blow the doors off in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

“Jazz started in New Orleans and it’s truly a gumbo. It’s a living music – a changing, breathing creature,” says Vail Jazz Festival founder Howard Stone. “For this 20th anniversary season, our lineup is not just a New Orleans gumbo, it’s a world gumbo with more energy and variety than we’ve ever had.”

Beginning at the end of June, twelve weeks of performances include free jazz every Sunday at the Vail Farmers’ Market and Restaurant Kelly Liken along with hands on, educational workshops – Jammin’ Jazz Kids. Then of course, there are the Thursday evening Jazz@ Vail Square performances with a line up that will have long-time jazz diehards brimming with anticipation and young jazz skeptics readily admitting that the genre is worth exploring.

The names immediately recognizable to the former group include iconic guitarist John Pizzarelli, who made his inaugural appearance at last summer’s Vail Jazz Festival and kicks off the season June 27 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a collaboration with Bravo! Vail, a collaboration that also brings a series of three jam sessions – all of which sold out last season – on July 2, 12 and 23.

The Jazz @ Vail Square performances have truly evolved into an event of their own, filling the jazz tent in Lionshead with a brimming crowd every Thursday evening and the entire side of town with uplifting melodies. Advanced tickets to each show are $10 or $25 for VIP preferred seating.

 

Jazz @ Vail Square

July 3: The series kicks off with the return of hypnotizing guitar duo Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo. Appearing in Vail for the first time last summer, Frank & Vinny have a knack for enthralling a crowd with their lightning fast fingers covering a litany of tunes from classics like “Stardust” to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” all while conducting their own silly choreography and drawing laughs from the crowd. Keep an eye out for the duo on the best-sounding float in Vail’s Fourth of July parade.

July 10: Also returning by popular demand, the foot-stomping, dance-inspiring rhythms of conga drumming sensation Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.

July 17: Young singer and jazz pianist Tony DeSare is quickly becoming known for making the keys dance while belting out original compositions as well as upbeat renditions of his favorites from a gamut that runs from Billy Joel to Harry Connick Jr. This marks the Vail debut of his quartet.

July 24: Jazz festival favorite Marcia Ball returns to Vail with her romping New Orleansinfused piano and vocals.

July 31: Imagine New Orleans Brass Band colliding with the strains of Eastern Indian horns and percussion. The young and energetic Red Baraat grabbed NPR’s attention for a Tiny Desk Concert and are sure to have Vail Square thumping.

Aug. 7: Jamaica’s one and only Monty Alexander brings his addictive jazz piano along with the classic grooves of his full band, the Harlem-Kingston Express, from their regular setup at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City to a very special show in Lionshead.

Aug. 14: Guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli returns for his own riveting performance along with his quartet, including brother Martin on bass.

Aug. 21: Defying the classic conventions, young, blonde and uber talented trumpeter Bria Skonberg makes her inaugural appearance in Vail. You’ve never heard a horn wail in such inspiring melody as this. Swing dance?

Aug. 28: The kings of Vail Jazz, The Vail Jazz Party House Band wrap up Jazz @ Vail Square with a white-hot performance followed by the future of jazz embodied in the nation’s very best, carefully selected ensemble of Vail Jazz All-Stars.

Vail Jazz Party Labor Day Weekend

The ultimate grand finale, the 20th anniversary party brings an onslaught of more than 40 of the world’s finest jazz musicians, including the genre’s most renowned pianists Benny Green along with the return of Monty Alexander, drummers Jeff Hamilton and Ernie Adams, trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonists Ken Peplowski and Grace Kelly and vocalists Curtis Stigers and Ann Hampton Callaway.

The weekend will include mind-blowing multimedia tributes to Benny Goodman, Clark Terry and Sarah Vaughn, singer Niki Haris at the helm for the wildly popular Gospel Prayer Meetin’ and a true star power lineup of Vail Jazz All-Star alums, including the remarkably talented blind pianist Justin Kauflin, featured in the gripping documentary “Keep on Keepin’ On.” To be viewed over the festival weekend.

“Each of these artists is a jazz powerhouse in his or her own right,” says Vail Jazz Foundation Executive Director Robin Litt. “To get this many of them in one place, on one weekend, is something that just doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

For more information or to purchase to any of the festival’s upcoming events, visit vailjazz.org.

Vail Jazz Unveils 20th Anniversary Image

February 12, 2014 – Vail, Colorado – As part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Vail Jazz Festival, The Vail Jazz Foundation unveiled its festival image, the brand of the summer-long festival.

With over 40 performances spanning 12 weeks, offerings will include free and welcoming outdoor concerts, large format performances as well as intimate soirées.

Each year, we work with a graphic artist to capture the essence and excitement of our festival through a captivating image,” said Robin Litt, executive director of The Vail Jazz Foundation. “This year, we decided to go about things differently than in the past and we conducted a contest to get designers interpretations of Vail Jazz. We are excited to be working with AJ McCormick, whose winning trombone image seems to explode with mountains.”

Entries came from all over the country, including Eagle County and the Front Range. McCormick, a graphic designer based in Denver, spends a lot of time snowboarding in Vail.

The image becomes the brand of the festival, which will commence on June 22 and wrap up with the Vail Jazz Party on September 1st. The 12-week festival will be filled with over 40 performances ranging from free outdoor performances to intimate and elegant small-venue shows.

Addressing the Vail Jazz mission of presenting performances and educational opportunities that promote jazz, with specific focus on young artists and young audiences.

The season gets a jump start on June 27th with a collaboration with Bravo! Vail at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater featuring jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jeff Tyzik.

Jammin’ Jazz Kids, which debuted in 2013, will be expanded to offer free interactive programming for youth every Sunday in July at the Vail Farmers’ Market, in conjunction with the weekly Jazz @ The Market series.

“Jazz After” jam sessions at Larkspur will continue in partnership with Bravo! Vail following performances at the GRFA.

The cornerstone of Vail Jazz summer activities is the weekly series at Lionshead each Thursday night, Jazz @ Vail Square.

Artists will include Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express, John Pizzarelli Quartet, Tony DeSare, one of the hottest singer/pianists on the scene todayand Vail Jazz “House Band” made up of John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash. The full line up will be announced in March.

The grand finale of the festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend with the Vail Jazz Party. The Party is a unique format that brings the audience up close with over 40 artists, who will jam for over 35 hours over Labor Day Weekend. Artists who will perform along with the House Band over Labor Day Weekend include: pianists Benny Green and Monty Alexander, vocalists Curtis Stigers and Ann Hampton Callaway, drummer Jeff Hamilton and his trio, trumpeter Byron Stripling, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, drummer Ernie Adams, bassist Marty Wind and the Vail Jazz Alumni Ensemble, all past members of the Vail Jazz Workshop who are current touring musicians.

Special shows will include: the popular Gospel Prayer Meetin’ led by Niki Haris, Multi-Media Tributes to Benny Goodman, Clark Terry and Sarah Vaughn, Piano Duets featuring all of the party’s pianists, and a partnership with the Vail Symposium – a screening of “Keep on Keepin’ On”, a documentary featuring Clark Terry and one of his last students, Vail Jazz alumnus, Justin Kauflin.

“We’ll have more exciting programming over Labor Day Weekend than ever before – and we already have a packed weekend of music!” Litt remarked. “Each of these artists is a tremendous headliner in his or her own right, but when we bring together so many jazz powerhouses at our party, the output is like nothing you’ve experienced before.” Tickets for the Vail Jazz Party will go on sale in March.

Vail Jazz Presents Winter Series as Kick-Off to Celebratory Year

January 13, 2014– Vail, CO – The Vail Jazz Foundation celebrates 20 years as the leading presenter of jazz education and performance in the region and kicks off an exciting year of celebration with three unique performances during this winter, 2014.

Plans are well underway for the 20th Anniversary Vail Jazz Festival, a twelve week series of over 40 performances, slated for June 22 – September 1, 2014.

The winter series kicks off on Wednesday, February 12 with an intimate soiree held in a private residence featuring Brazilian diva, Eliane Elias, who will perform with her husband, acclaimed bassist, Marc Johnson. Elias’ sensuous ballads and artful piano playing will enthrall the audience in an exquisite, intimate setting.

The series follows with Diego Figueiredo and his trio. Figueiredo, a fast rising star among jazz guitarists, adds his own Brazilian flair on March 9th at The Fitz Lounge in Manor Vail Lodge. While performing during the past two years at the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day Weekend, Figueiredo wowed audiences with his superb technique, timing and imagination.

April 3rd marks a collaboration with the Vilar Performing Arts Center featuring Chris Botti, winner of the Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

Artistic Director Howard Stone announced the line-up for the Winter Jazz Series noting, ”The lineup of winter artists mirrors what Vail Jazz is known for – exceptional performances presented in intimate and intriguing locales. We are so fortunate to bring three top jazz performers that are compelling and captivating entertainers. Our first two shows highlight the extraordinary sounds of Brazilian Jazz, followed up with Botti’s smooth wit and awe inspiring talent on his trumpet. These performances will cover a varied spectrum of appealing jazz styles that are sure to please audiences, whether a hardcore jazz fan or just someone looking for a great musical experience.”

Executive director Robin Litt added, “Each of these award winning artists brings an exceptional level of talent to the Vail Valley. We are thrilled to partner with the VPAC, Alpine Bank, Colorado Mountain Express, Vail Resorts Echo, Westin Riverfront at Avon and our other sponsors to present these concerts.”

Celebrating its 20th year, The Vail Jazz Foundation produces innovative and prestigious educational programs including the Vail Jazz Workshop, Jammin’ Jazz Kids and Jazz Goes to School, along with the Vail Jazz Festival, one of the nation’s foremost jazz festivals featuring over 150 artists throughout the summer. The summer-long Festival has met with unprecedented growth over the past five years as attendees have come to recognize Vail Jazz for presenting the highest quality performances. Vail Jazz focuses on perpetuating jazz music through live performances that showcase the artistry and talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. For more information, visit www.vailjazz.org