$10 Jass and Technology

The world of jazz is in a very festive mood as it celebrates a seminal year in the history of jazz: 1917. Four of the greatest masters of the art form were born that year – Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Buddy Rich.  It was also the year that the Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB) recorded what is generally considered to be the first jazz recording. “Livery Stable Blues” was the hit side of the record (you remember records, you actually turned them over to hear the music that was on the other side) and on the “flip” side was “Dixieland Jass Band One-Step.” The record became an instantaneous hit and sold over one million copies, setting off a craze for jazz that ushered in the Jazz Age (the 1920s).

Recording of music on cylinders was well established in the 1880s, so why was jazz not recorded before then? Because there wasn’t any jazz to record.  While musicologists like to debate when jazz was first performed and by whom, it should be understood that even the use of the term “jazz” to describe the music was not generally agreed upon until the early 1920s, when jazz became the preferred spelling.

Whatever the origins of its name, it is clear that for at least a decade prior to the recording, jazz was evolving, but it can’t be pinpointed with accuracy when the music was first performed. This is for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that jazz is an art form that has evolved (and continues to evolve) from a combination of musical traditions and there is no one point at which all the ingredients were first fused together in a “jazzy way.”  Some of the most important ingredients include: the music of the brass and marching bands from the post-civil war era; ragtime and boogie woogie music from the late 19th century; and the blues. So when were these and other musical traditions joined together to produce jazz? No one can be sure.

Today anyone can make a recording, and of course, music is easily notated and preserved in writing. In the early 20th Century, the recording industry was concentrated in NYC and jazz was centered in New Orleans and the South, although it had begun to spread to several other urban areas. The musicians were not conservatory trained and most couldn’t read music. The widespread availability of the radio was still more than five years away and the first talkie movie was over a decade away, so the best technology of the day was a two-sided disc that when turned at 78 rotations per minute (rpm), could spread jazz throughout the globe.  

But it took the ODJB, composed of five white men traveling from New Orleans to NYC, to light the fuse that set off the jazz explosion. It should be remembered that jazz was performed for dancing and therefore jazz bands were dance bands. While the ODJB claimed to be the “creators of jazz,” it is clear that jazz was generally created by blacks and creoles in New Orleans. For many jazz historians it is a sad fact that blacks weren’t the first to record a jazz record and that the band that did had copied the music of successful black musicians in New Orleans. There was of course no one creator of the music.  The fact is that early jazz greats such as Buddy Bolden and King Oliver stayed in New Orleans and were just some of the “chefs de cuisine” that prepared the musical gumbo that became jazz, along with many others, known and unknown, that added to the jazz recipe.  

The quality of the playing on the record, with its limited improvisation and its repetitive choruses, was not the best example of jazz at the time and there was a corny aspect to the music with instruments imitating the sounds of barnyard animals, but the record displayed a lively danceable beat and the importance of the record cannot be denied. In essence, the technology of sound recording gave a large number of Americans, who had never heard jazz, their first chance to hear the music and allowed for the rapid dissemination of a regional sound, which was then embraced in the four corners of the U.S. and then globally.

The famous bandleader Paul Whiteman explained it best: “One moment jazz was unknown, a low noise in a low dive. The next, it became a serious pastime of a hundred million people, the diversion of princes and millionaires.”

The ODJB was the first band to use “Dixieland” as part of its name. While there is no doubt “Dixieland” was regularly used to describe the Southern states that seceded from the Union, the origin of Dixie as the descriptor of the South is clouded in mystery. The most accepted explanation is that “Dixie” is the corruption of the French word for 10, “dix,” and when banks in the French Quarter of New Orleans (and ultimately in the surrounding areas) first issued their own $10 bank notes with Dix on the reverse side, English-speaking southerners starting calling the bills “Dixies.” Eventually all of the South became known as Dixieland. The fact that the ODJB adopted this name also created another first, the music of New Orleans became known as Dixieland Jass and finally Dixieland Jazz.

Vail Jazz will celebrate the rich history of the music of New Orleans on July 12 at 6:30 pm and 9 p.m. when it presents the legendary Henry Butler, New Orleans blues vocalist and pianist at the Sonnenalp Hotel. In addition, Vail Jazz will present Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9 in concert on July 13 at 6 p.m. in the Jazz Tent at Vail Square in Lionshead. You won’t want to miss that authentic ‘Nawlins vibe.

The sounds of New Orleans soar through Vail this week

In addition to tonight’s Vail Jazz Gala starring singer John Boutté, iconic pianist/vocalist Henry Butler throws down sizzling solo club shows Wednesday, then Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 light up Vail Square Thursday

Henry Butler compares his audience connection to making love. For the 67-year-old blind pianist, connections are all about communicating without words.

“The thing that I really like about performing, regardless of what kind of performance it is, is those energies going back and forth all the time,” he says. “It’s the same energy involved in loving somebody, the same energy involved in love making. It just manifests differently.”

Growing up in New Orleans, La., Henry Butler has been playing music since he was a small boy. Blinded by glaucoma in his infancy, his studies began at Louisiana State School for the Blind and continued at Southern University in Baton Rouge and Michigan State University. Since then, he’s recorded 12 full-length albums, performed in every large festival throughout the country and toured the world many times. He’s come to be regarded as one of the great pianists and vocalists of the ages, revered in both his hometown of New Orleans and his new town of New York City. But Butler says the learning never stops.

When asked what have been some of the more memorable compliments he’s been paid over the years, Butler says, “I’ve gotten all kinds of positive comments and I let people know I appreciate their sentiments. But I always say to myself, ‘hopefully the next time you hear me, I’ll be better.’”

He typically practices twice a day in his small apartment in Brooklyn.

“Part of it is an exercise regime, but that’s the base part. Within the exercise, you decide you have an idea of what you want to accomplish. That concept could be negotiating certain types of harmonic progressions. It could be working on a certain technical thing, or work on scales. It could be on working on proficiency,” he says. “Living in a place like New York, you have to portion your time. Once you get to a place where you know yourself pretty well, you can get a lot done in an hour or an hour and a half.”

Butler’s home was one of the many destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He lost nearly all of his possessions, including his most treasured piano. Following the disaster, he relocated to Colorado and then New York, but has yet to feel settled.

“I don’t know that I’ve completely gotten over Katrina,” he says. “I just haven’t felt home since. I haven’t felt I lived in a community that felt like home since Katrina. I may go back to New Orleans or I may go to California. I could live anywhere at this point. I might come back to Colorado… but it got a little quiet for me. I needed to hear a few more sirens.”

Bellowing out vocal notes that sound almost operatic against his racketing piano, Butler is a force in and of himself. Still, he has shared the stage and recording studio with everyone from Jeff Golub to Cyndi Lauper, James Carter to B.B. King. His latest collaboration has him fusing cosmic musical powers with famed trumpeter Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9, a boisterous crew including a six-piece horn section: Curtis Fowlkes, Doug Wieselman, Peter Apfelbaum and Eric Lawrence, as well as guitarist Matt Munisteri, bassist Brandi Disterheft, violinist Sam Bardfeld and drummer Donald Edwards.

The result is a hypnotic explosion of  delightful harmony and improvisation, each musician taking turns to launch ahead of the rhythm, catapulting it with fiery solos as the entire band will occasionally pause in awe of Butler’s escalating individual masterpieces, which wander a gamut of emotions from melancholy to ecstasy.

“Every time I go out and sit on stage in front of an audience my goal is to inspire, to uplift, to encourage, to inform. If in some way we can heal a little bit together, that’s great,” Butler says. “The audience usually lets you know if you’re on the way to achieving any of that.”

The message Butler gets from his audience transcends words or applause or anything that can be measured.

“It happens all the time in what we call nanoseconds, when the audience energy comes back to me,” Butler says. “I get more inspired. I realize more ideas to share. As that stuff goes back to the audience, the audience perhaps moves to a different place of different understanding. Maybe it lifts them a little bit.”

To Butler, this type of communication is the deepest type of human connection.

“I’ll tell you what it’s like,” he says. “You’re in a relationship and you’re sitting with that partner and you feel what you’re thinking is something special. And maybe even before the partner says anything, before you utter anything to the partner, before either one of you pronounces love, you’re feeling what you think is love. Wherever an audience is after receiving the music and receiving more and more music, they send that back to me. You feel it. I’m always feeling it.”

Vail Jazz performances

Wednesday, July 12

Henry Butler kicks off the summer’s Vail Jazz Club Series with his rich solo performances at Ludwig’s Terrace in The Sonnenalp Hotel. The first show begins at 6:30 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) and the second show begins at 9 p.m.(doors at 8:30 p.m.). Tickets are $40. Drink and dinner service are available for purchase.

Thursday, July 12

Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 bring their bouncing, New Orleans-inspired glee symphony to Vail Jazz @Vail Square at 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $25, preferred seats $40 and premium seats $50. Presented by The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea, Vail Jazz @ Vail Square takes place every Thursday evening throughAug. 24 in the all-weather Jazz Tent in The Arrabelle courtyard in Lionshead. Drinks are available for purchase.


Plan for more fireworks of the auditory variety when Marcia Ball returns to Vail this Thursday

The ‘saucy’ southerner discusses ‘two-fisted’ piano, eavesdropping and being the ‘fun’ influence on her grandchildren

Besides playing some of the most romping, two-fisted piano around, Marcia Ball also puts on a poppin’ summer camp. She calls it “Camp Granny” and the lucky campers are her 9- and 4-year-old grandsons.

It’s a hot day at home in Austin, TX and Camp Granny is in session, as evidenced by the boisterous piano notes in the background during a phone interview with Ball.

“He likes to pick things up by ear,” explains the five-time Grammy nominee about 9-year-old grandson, Lincoln. “He takes piano lessons from a real teacher but I’m showing him the left hand.”

Chances are, the kids possess a solid genetic predisposition for piano prowess.

And, by the way, “two-fisted,” is a slight misnomer when it’s used to describe Ball’s style.

“That phrase was coined a while back in reference to Katie Webster, a great piano player from Lake Charles, Louisiana – 20 miles from where I’m from. She’s got an album called Two-Fisted Mama! It means playing the piano by banging on it. I’m always ready to rumble, but mostly I use my fingers,” Ball says.

The 68-year-old then pauses a minute to review some other terms that have frequently been used to describe the style and image she’s etched over her musical career that’s spanned nearly five decades. Another descriptor that’s come up continuously is “saucy.”

“Saucy to me implies ‘with attitude, a bit of an edge, a bit of sassiness. It’s someone with a sassy attitude,” she says. “…That’s fairly accurate.”

Ball’s sauciness has been embraced and heralded by every audience she’s encountered in her decorated career, over which she has recorded 17 albums, made feature performances in every massive jazz and blues festival countrywide (including Monterey Jazz Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, Austin City Limits and of course, many years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals), landed 10 Blues Music Awards, eight Living Blues Awards and inductions into both the Gulf Coast and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Just this spring she was deemed the 2018 Texas State Musician.

Ball is humble about her accomplishments, however. Getting back to Camp Granny, she takes zero credit for her grandchildren’s burgeoning musical abilities.

“It’s none of my doing, I assure you,” she says. “The older one is working on playing music right now and is autodidactic. He’s developed an interest in classical music and he’ll ask about a piece or hum me a piece and I’ll figure out what it is. I asked if he wanted to try piano lessons and he did.”
Ball, as it turns out, had no designs on being the kid’s teacher.

“Somebody else needs to teach your grandchildren things,” she insists. “I want to be the fun one, not the disciplinarian.”

It’s not easy to imagine Ball being anything but playful when it comes to the piano. Although she has written numerous moving ballads and love songs, most of her musical creations – both instrumentally and lyrically – are fueled with a distinct sense of adventure.

This is largely due to her wandering eye – or ear – for inspiration.

“I pick up a lot of my song ideas from eavesdropping,” she says. “That’s what happens. It happens in conversations with friends. You hear a word or phrase and write it down. I was with another musician the other day and we both overheard the same line in a conversation. It was a race to write it down.”

Ball is in the midst of a songwriting frenzy this summer, stringing together the follow up to her latest release, 2014’s The Tattooed Lady and The Alligator Man, the title track of which was inspired by the subjects themselves.

“They told me their story and I wrote it down. People like that story. I don’t have a reasonable explanation for what strikes me as good storytelling for each song. It’s just like it walked up to my porch and knocked on my door,” she says.

The most rewarding aspect of her musical career, says the Louisiana natve, is the way her stories resonate with audiences.

“I talk to people after the gigs almost every night and it’s a cool thing if a song has meant anything to them. I get to hear about who used ‘The Power of Love’ at weddings or ‘Human Kindness’ in presentations about ethics.”

When asked to speculate on what her songs or her presence – albeit not as a teacher – will mean to her piano-playing grandson, Ball finally acknowledges that there might be a place for her.

“I have thought about the fact that maybe they’ll ask him about his musical history one day and he’ll say, ‘my grandma played the piano.’ Yeah, thinking about that makes me feel pretty good.”

Marcia Ball @ Vail Square
Don’t miss Marcia Ball’s return to Vail at 6 p.m. July 6 in Lionshead for the 2017 opening performance of Vail Jazz @ Vail Square. General admission tickets are $25, $40 for preferred seats and $50 for premium seats. Preferred and Premium seat subscriptions are also available for multiple performances. Presented by The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea, Vail Jazz @ Vail Square takes place every Thursday evening through Aug. 24 in the all-weather Jazz Tent in The Arrabelle courtyard in Lionshead. Drinks are available for purchase. For tickets or more information click here or call 888-VAIL-JAM.

Boogie in the Barrelhouses of the Texas Backwoods

In East Texas before the Civil War, cotton was king and so was timber, as there were vast forests of longleaf pine trees covering eastern Texas. The lumber from the trees was an ideal building material and there was a great demand for it. So slaves were not only in bondage on cotton plantations but also in lumber camps in the backwoods of East Texas, with the greatest concentration in Harrison County, north-easterly Texas. When the Civil War ended, most of the freed slaves had little prospects for employment, so out of desperation they continued to work the cotton fields and lumber camps where they had previously toiled in involuntary servitude.

By the 1870s, railroads were established in and around Harrison County in order to efficiently bring the logs to market. For most of the loggers, this was the first time they had ever heard a steam locomotive with its accelerating “chug, chug” sound, which made its way into the music of Harrison County and beyond.

In many of the lumber camps and on the outskirts of towns where African Americans were living after being freed, “barrelhouses” began to be constructed as a place the former slaves could seek entertainment away from their white bosses. These sheds were stocked with barrels of whiskey and beer, a dance floor, and usually a tinny-sounding out-of-tune upright piano played by an itinerant piano player, so the patrons could dance. Gambling and fighting went with the territory, as well as a “back room” where “railroad ladies” earned their keep. Liquor was served directly from the barrels (hence, a barrelhouse) and a lot of partying went on. Beginning in the 1870s in the barrelhouses of Harrison County, a unique sound was heard emanating from these pianos, initially known as “Fast Western” and “Fast Texas” (probably derived from the local Texas Western Railroad). The music later became known as “Barrelhouse,” “Honky Tonk” and ultimately “Boogie Woogie” or the shorten version, “Boogie.” Over the next four decades as the music evolved, it was the trains that not only inspired the music, but also transported the itinerant piano players, first from lumber camp to lumber camp, and then to New Orleans, Chicago and beyond, thereby spreading the new music to a larger urban population of willing black dancers.

Boogie sprang from the blues and had all the elements of jazz – syncopation, improvisation and that “swinging feeling.” However, the blues were traditionally played in a slow tempo, while Boogie was a fast blues for dancing. The piano was played in a percussive manner, like a drum, beating out a rhythm (generally eight beats per bar played by the left hand, while the right hand played rhythmic variations of the bass line), so dancers could move aggressively with the music. Some say the pulsating and driving rhythm had sexual overtones and while the origin of the name is not clear, brothels were known as “boogie houses” and to “pitch a boogie” was to have a party or sex. Whatever your interpretation of the music and its name, to the churchgoing blacks it was clear that this was the music of the devil, even the name suggested an abomination.
Because initially both Boogie and Ragtime were played on a piano, exclusively, and evolved at roughly the same time, they are sometimes confused, but in fact are quite different. Both styles use the right hand to play syncopations, but the left hand in Ragtime plays a bass line that is a 2/4 “oompah” type rhythm, very much like a Sousa-style march. While the left hand in Boogie has a shuffling, walking and swinging quality that creates a tension and excitement, a sense of perpetual motion, with an explosive quality, that makes you want to dance. Ragtime, on the other hand, makes you want to tap your foot.
Alan Lomax, the famous ethnomusicologist, described the originals and sounds of Boogie as follows: “Anonymous black musicians, longing to grab a train and ride away from their troubles, incorporated the rhythms of the steam locomotive and the moan of their whistles into the new dance music they were playing in jukes and dance halls. Boogie Woogie forever changed piano players, as piano players transformed the instrument into a polyrhythmic railroad train.”
By the 1920s, Boogie was well established in urban centers with large African American populations, but few white Americans knew the music. That all changed on the evening of Dec. 23, 1938, when three African American Boogie masters, Meade “Lux” Lewis, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons, performed at Carnegie Hall at the legendary “Spirituals to Swing” concert. Their performances set off a nationwide dance frenzy that continues to this day. How is that possible? Think back to the early music of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis, who famously said, “They called it blues. They called it Boogie Woogie. Then they changed the name of it to Rock and Roll.” So what started out in the barrelhouses of the backwoods of Texas as a fast blues, morphed into jazz and ultimately shaped the beat of rock and roll.

Vail Jazz is pleased to present Vail’s favorite “Boogie Queen,” Marcia Ball, in concert at 6 p.m. on July 6 in the Jazz Tent at Vail Square in Lionshead. Singing and playing barrelhouse piano and the blues, Marcia always leaves her audiences wanting more.

The life of a New Orleans Jazz Singer

How a cruel speech therapist, a hurricane and a stalker helps John Boutté bring tears of joy to his audiences.

There’s a tropical storm ripping through Louisiana and John Boutté is watching the towering, 200-year-old trees blow and sway on his new property outside of New Orleans.

“Man, I’m so fortunate,” he says during a phone interview in June, his voice fading in and out with the gusts. “This is what I hear, the sounds of oaks rustling. It’s incredible. I never hear any sirens. I don’t hear bullets anymore.”

Besides all of his time on the road touring the world and the stint he spent serving as a U.S. Army Officer, Boutté has spent nearly all of his 58 years in New Orleans. Two years ago he moved away from the downtown home next door to the one he grew up in and relocated to the countryside.

“It’s 23 acres of pine trees, magnolias, white oaks … it’s a beautiful forest. The house is only about 800 square feet. This used to be a golf course,” he explains. “When I tell my friends I bought a golf course, I say, ‘Man, don’t look at me like I’m Donald Trump.”

Boutté grew up in a family of 10, loving music as early as he can remember. His first instrument was his aunt’s antique cornet he received when he was 8. He recalls asking his mother about it and being frustrated, because he struggled to pronounce “Rs,” and thought she’d misunderstood him.

“I remember my mom was at the stove. She had my baby brother in her arms, my baby sister pulling on one leg and I was pulling on the other. So here I am hollerin’ ‘Mamoo has a cornet,’ and she said, ‘Mamoo doesn’t have a clarinet.’ I stormed away. But the next morning before I went to school, she had it waiting for me. That was the beginning of my musical career,” Boutté says.

He was reading music shortly thereafter, then playing in marching bands, singing in choirs, starting a capella groups, performing in street bands and winning talent shows. His trajectory did, however, encounter a blip during his teenage years.

“I feel like I won a lottery for how great my childhood was. But at 17, I had a speech therapist who told me there was something wrong with my voice because it was so high,” Boutté recalls. “He said, ‘you sound like a girl.’ It broke my heart. It threw me off; I wasn’t singing for about a year. It was a wakeup call to me that that sometimes you’re going to have some real a—hole people you have to deal with in life. In one fell swoop, this guy knocked the confidence right out of me.”

Eventually, the confidence came stomping back. Boutté began singing again and then soaring. His professional recording career has led to 10 albums and collaborations with everyone from Herbie Hancock and Paul Sanchez to Galactic and Todd Rungren. His voice has been admired by the likes of Mel Torme and Stevie Wonder. He created the theme song for the hit HBO series, Treme, and the series keeps coming back with more song and appearance requests.

If only that speech therapist could see him now.

“I would love to see the look on his face,” Boutté admits. “I’ve always loved to sing. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most incredible jazz musicians in New Orleans, the second generation of jazz cats, the third generations of jazz cats, I grew up around them. To be in that circle, I lucked out. I got schooled by a lot of them. You never think of yourself as good. You see so much talent around you.”

Half-jokingly, Boutté goes onto say he didn’t realize he had anything going for him until about three years ago.

“I realized I really knew I had something, when it was something I didn’t want … when I got my first bonafide stalker,” he says.

This is no joke. Somehow a misguided fan began sending Boutte strange gifts although he has no idea how she got his address and calling him “at all times of the night,” though he doesn’t know how she got his phone number.

He eventually filed a restraining order. Although he is still recovering from the emotional drain of the experience, he feels he is better equipped to deal with unpleasant situations after losing most of his treasured possessions – including that first antique cornet – during Hurricane Katrina. He says the hurricane has instilled in him a live-for-the-moment approach to life that he refers to as “the Katrina mentality.”

“With all of my travel, the gain, the loss, knowing I’m in a world that can turn on a dime at any moment, all of those experiences have left a reservoir of emotions that I can tap into,” he says.

Not only do the floodgates open for Boutté every time he steps onto a stage, but for his audiences, too.

“One time after singing Annie Lennox’s ‘Why,’ I looked out at the audience. Man, when I opened up my eyes, all the ladies were crying. All the guys were crying. Kids were crying,” he says. “I do touch a lot of people, man.”

2017 Vail Jazz Gala

Don’t miss John Boutté’s Vail debut on July 10 when he performs From Bridge Street to Bourbon Street at The Sebastian in Vail with a select ensemble of Vail Jazz Workshop Alumni. Cocktails and appetizers begin at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and silent auction at 7 p.m. and music at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information, visit From Bridge Street to Bourbon Street or call 888-VAIL-JAM

Free live music begins Sunday at Vail Farmers’ Market

If there were ever an absolute confirmation that summer has officially arrived, it’s the start of the Vail Farmers Market. Ah yes, the juicy cherries and peaches, the freshly jarred Colorado honey, the one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, the constant aroma of smoky barbecue and sea of happy people. What would it all be without a soundtrack?

Follow your ears to free live music beginning this Sunday at the Vail Farmers Market with a rotating lineup of acclaimed regional acts from 12 to 3 p.m. in the Vail Jazz tent at Solaris Terrace. Showcasing homegrown, Colorado talent, the series kicks off with longtime alto saxophone master and swanky vocalist Max Wagner and his Quartet. With his latest recording, “Gratitude,” nominated Album of the Month by KUVO Jazz Radio, Wagner brings his array of upbeat originals, soulful bebop, Latin jazz, straight ahead jazz and romantic ballads to the Vail stage. He’s joined by Ken Walker on bass, Mike Marleir on drums and Jeff Jenkins on keyboard.

Vail Jazz @ The Market continues every Sunday through Aug. 27 with a vibrant variety of artists, ranging from blues and Latin to swing and Brazilian.

The series welcomes Max Wagner Quartet on July 30, Los Chicos Malos on July 2, Phil Wiggins and George Kilby Jr. on July 9 and B3 Jazz Project on July 16. Mark your calendars for Vail favorites BLT and Bob Rebholz on July 23, followed by a return of Chuck Lamb Quartet on July 30, Kathy Morrow & DZ on Aug. 6, The Hennessy 6 on Aug. 13, Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles on Aug. 20 and wrapping up Aug. 27 with Katie Glassman & Snapshot.

All music begins at 12 p.m. on Sundays at Solaris Plaza in Vail Village and is free to one and all – serious listeners soaking up the three-hour performance or casual strollers sitting down for a few minutes to soak up the shade.

Vail Jazz @Riverwalk welcomes The Otone Brass Band

Dancing while playing an instrument is no simple feat, but it appears to come naturally to all eight members of The Otone Brass Band. Whether it’s swinging the sousaphone from side to side or spinning and bobbing while keeping a lightning fast drumbeat, it’s clear that every one in the band views each song as an opportunity to party. The vibe is contagious and it’s usually a matter of seconds before everyone within earshot is moving to the beat.

The Otone Brass Band brings its lively grooves to the Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheater this Friday for Vail Jazz@ Riverwalk presented by Alpine Bank and Kaiser Permanente.

The all-new Vail Jazz@ Riverwalk series kicked off June 9 with The Burroughs, drawing in a sea of picnicking families, passers by and dancers of all ages. The series delivers free live music every other Friday along with local food and drink vendors, including paella from Revolution, paninis and salads from Eat! Drink! and cocktails from 10th Mountain Whiskey.

“Our first Riverwalk show was a fantastic blueprint of what we hope to see the rest of the summer,” says Vail Jazz Operations Director James Kenly. “We had all kinds of people on the lawn – families and couples with picnic spreads watching the show while enjoying their dinner. We had little kids twirling to the tunes. At one point it was like the band sent a wave over everyone. One after another, people started coming to the front of the stage to dance. It was so much fun.”

The Otone Brass Band just might take its stage performance into marching mode through the lawn. It wouldn’t be the first time. Infusing its New Orleans street sound with strains of Latin, soul and funk, whether on stage or off, the Denver-based ensemble is famous for infecting crowds of all ages with positive energy.

If spontaneous dance opportunities aren’t enough for the younger members of the audience, Alpine Arts Center will be on hand offering unique arts and crafts projects for children.

Vendors open at 5 p.m. and music begins at 6 p.m. Picnics are welcome but no pets are allowed. The event is non-smoking.

Vail Jazz launches a summer of lawn parties every other Friday in Edwards

There’s nothing like unwinding from a busy week with free live music and a sunny afternoon picnic.

Vail Jazz observed that such a scene was too good to reserve for only the first Friday of the month, which is why the all-new Vail Jazz@ Riverwalk was born, infusing The Riverwalk in Edwards with an outdoor party every other Friday all summer long.

Vail Jazz @Riverwalk kicks off the summer weekends on a high note beginning at 5 p.m. June 9 with the romping, high-energy tunes of The Burroughs. The homegrown, northern Colorado-based nine-piece calls its sound “sweaty soul,” and fuses its self-proclaimed “powerhouse” rhythm section with a vibrant, four-piece horn section and unquestionably charismatic vocals delivered by front man Johnny Burroughs. The Burroughs return to the Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheater in Edwards, where they had the packed, picnic-toting crowd on its feet dancing for nearly their entire set last summer during Riverwalk First Fridays.

Vail Jazz @ Riverwalk replaces Riverwalk First Fridays, bringing a sizzling variety of regional artists to Edwards every other Friday along with local food and drink vendors, including rotisserie barbecue from Revolution, paninis and salads from Eat! Drink! and cocktails from 10th Mountain Whiskey.

“It became clear last summer that people were hungry for live music on the lawn Friday afternoons, so we doubled our offerings,” says Vail Jazz Operations Director James Kenly. “The Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheater is an ideal setting to showcase this super talented lineup of bands. The scene turns into a massive lawn party with neighbors, friends and visitors – a perfect place to make new friends. We expect it to become everybody’s go-to Friday plan twice a month.”

Following its June 9 summer launch, Vail Jazz @ Riverwalk continues June 23 with New Orleans flavored Otone Brass Brand, rhythm and blues group Phil Wiggins and George Kilby Jr. on July 7, contemporary jazz saxophonist Nelson Rangell on July 21, the U.S. Air Force Academy Falconaires Big Band Aug. 4 and sizzling salsa 12-piece Quemando on Aug. 18.

Not sure whether to leave the kids at home? Bring them along. Alpine Arts Center offers free arts and crafts for children and the general ambiance delivers entertainment for all ages. Vendors open at 5 p.m. and music begins at 6 p.m. Picnics are welcome but no pets are allowed and the event is non-smoking.

The Vail Jazz @ Riverwalk series is presented by








From the Mountains to the Masses: Vail Jazz Partners with KUVO

From the mountains to the masses – Vail Jazz and KUVO launch “Live from the Vail Jazz Festival” rebroadcast series

Since 1932 when large-scale broadcasts became popular in the United States, the relationship between jazz and the radio has been a natural one, keeping millions of listeners tuned in to jazz stations around the world for special interviews, new releases and cherished recordings.

Throughout the summer of 2017, Vail Jazz will hit the airwaves with an expanded series of rebroadcasted performances in partnership with KUVO, Denver’s internationally-recognized jazz radio station. Six one-hour programs will be released between July 23rd and August 27th in a series called, “Live from the Vail Jazz Festival.”

Ranked 50th in Downbeat Magazine’s “Coolest Things in Jazz,” KUVO is known as a foremost presenter of jazz in the radio format, reaching more than 106,000 listeners every week through its 17 locally produced programs. The station also transmits high into the Rockies through its local frequency, KVJZ 88.5FM.

“So many fans and patrons of Vail Jazz reminisce about their favorite performances and memories from the Vail Jazz Festival. We felt like it was time to start capturing and sharing these special musical moments on a larger scale,” said Vail Jazz Development Director Owen Hutchinson. “This is a perfect next step in our decades-long partnership with KUVO.”

Scheduled rebroadcasts will take place on Sunday afternoons, on the following dates:

July 23rd – John Boutte with Vail Jazz Workshop Alumni

July 30th – Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9

August 6th – The Hot Club of France Tribute Band

August 13th – Ella and Louis, Together Again – Featuring Byron Stripling and Carmen McRae

August 20th – Rene Marie and Experiment in Truth

August 27th – ¡Cubanismo!


“Live from the Vail Jazz Festival” rebroadcasts are made possible by:


Vail Jazz Festival delivering biggest summer lineup in history

Tickets are officially on sale for the 23rd annual Vail Jazz Festival’s summer of sizzling live performances, which includes a broad lineup of international, national and regional acts spanning the gamut from blues and soul to swing, bebop, gypsy jazz, Latin and more.


Vail Jazz Club Series
The Vail Jazz Club Series, takes place every Wednesday evening from July 12 to Aug. 9, at its new home, Ludwig’s Terrace at The Sonnenalp Hotel, which hosted the sold-out Vail Jazz Winter Series last winter. The 2017 Vail Jazz Club Series features intimate, lounge-style performances with Vail Square artists, including Henry Butler on July 12, Frank Vignola July 19, Carmen Bradford and Byron Stripling’s tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on July 26, Rene Marie on Aug. 2 and Dr. Michael Davison on Aug. 9 for a special lecture-performance on the history of Afro-Cuban jazz. The series will feature two performances on each of these nights, an early seating at 6:30 p.m. and a second seating at 9 p.m. view more…

July 10 Vail Jazz Gala: From Bridge Street to Bourbon Street
The Vail Jazz Gala is the annual fundraiser for Vail Jazz’s educational programs, which include Vail Jazz Goes to School, the Vail Jazz Workshop and Jammin’ Jazz Kids, cultivating more than 1,400 young minds in the art and beauty of jazz music every year. The 2017 Gala is set to blow the doors off with “The Voice of New Orleans,” jazz legend John Boutté, teaming up with Vail Jazz Workshop alumni. Bringing Bridge Street to Bourbon Street, the event begins at 6 p.m. on July 10 at The Sebastian and includes cocktails, hors d’houevres, dinner and a spectacular performance. view more…

Vail Jazz @ Vail Square
The 2017 Vail Jazz @ Vail Square series totals a whopping nine performances this summer – every Thursday evening at 6 p.m. beginning July 6 in the all-weather Vail Square tent in Lionshead. For the first time this summer, there will be assigned seating (selected online), and all-new Premium seating featuring cushioned chairs and more elbow room. Preferred and Premium tickets are available in a discounted four-pack subscription on sale through July 6. General admission seating is first come, first seated, available online as well. view more…

July 6 Marcia Ball
From rollicking roadhouse to bouncing blues to tear-inducing ballads, Marcia Ball hits the keys of her piano with a heartfelt, harmonious slam on every note. The award-winning storyteller from Texas returns to Vail with her alternately steppy and soulful, Louisiana-inspired tunes.

July 13 Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9
If this doesn’t sound like a big deck party, we don’t know what does. The New Orleans theme blows up 10-fold (11-fold, actually) with this electric, brass-heavy collaboration. Pianist and vocalist Henry Butler and trumpeter Steven Bernstein lead an explosive ensemble through sounds of pop, R&B, Caribbean, classical and traditional, fiery, impromptu jazz.

July 20 Frank Vignola’s Hot Club of France Tribute
Six-string phenom Frank Vignola is no stranger to Vail, but this summer he channels the hypnotic mystique of gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt. Tapping into the era of Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France, Vignola leads his own international quintet in a smoking hot tribute.

July 27 Ella and Louis Together Again featuring Carmen Bradford and Byron Stripling
Step out of a time machine to take in one of jazz history’s most show-stopping duos. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are brought back to life via the magic trumpet and vocals of Byron Stripling and Count Basie Big Band singer Carmen Bradford.

Aug. 3 René Marie and Experiment in Truth
The songwriter and swanky singer brings her seductive, larger-than-life vocals to Vail Square, tapping into flavors of folk, swing, classical and R&B. Whatever the selection of original numbers, the two-time Grammy nominee’s 10-year anniversary rendition of her sixth album, Experiment in Truth, will hypnotize.

Aug. 10 ¡Cubanismo!
The pulse created by this 11-piece ensemble reaches earthquake proportions as you glide through the deep river of Cuban rhythms. With plenty of horns, percussion beats and two vocalists, the lively tour takes you through dance tunes and wild polyrhythms of traditional rumba, cha-cha and classic Cuban “Son.”

Aug. 17 Eliane Elias: Samba Brazil
Combining sultry vocals with enchanting piano, Grammy winner Eliane Elias schools audiences in the art of Samba. Digging into her Brazilian roots, the celebrated composer makes her highly anticipated return to Vail, as is considered one of the top highlights of the 23rd Annual Festival.

Aug. 24 Joey DeFrancesco & The People
If ever there were a way to describe the B-3 organ as “light and infectious,” it would be due to the unique talent of showman Joey DeFrancesco. The prolific, Grammy-nominated musician also belts out some big vocals, toe-tapping trumpet and knows every in and out of bebop.

Aug. 31 Vail Jazz All-Stars, Alumni Quintet and House Band
Kicking off the 23rd Annual Vail Jazz Party and five days of wall-to-wall live music featuring the world’s top names in jazz, this triple bill brings a freshly tuned lineup of 12 teenage rising stars, star alumni and shining jazz stars – deeply established mentor musicians John and Jeff Clayton, Wycliffe Gordon, Terell Stafford, Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash.

Vail Jazz Party Aug. 31 – Sept. 4
The Vail Jazz Festival culminates with its marquee event, the 23rd Annual Vail Jazz Labor Day Weekend Party. More than 35 nationally and internationally acclaimed headlining artists descend on Vail for nonstop indoor and outdoor performances. Highlights for 2017 include Jeff Clayton’s Tribute to Cannonball Adderly, Jeff Hamilton’ and Butch Miles’ multimedia Tribute to Buddy Rich, Byron Stripling’s multimedia presentation of Cole Porter & The Jazz Connection, Niki Haris’ Gospel Prayer Meetin’ and Adrian Cunningham’s CD Release Party. Tickets are available for individual sessions as well as for the entire multi-day event in the form of Performance and Patron Passes.


Vail Jazz @Riverwalk
Back by popular demand, Alpine Bank and Kaiser Permanente present Vail Jazz @ Riverwalk, expanding this summer to six events. The series brings free live music to the Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheater in Edwards twice monthly on Friday afternoons beginning June 9 with energetic nine-piece soul rockers, The Burroughs. Vendors include Eat! Drink! of Edwards, serving delectable paninis and salads and rotisserie-themed Revolution, bringing barbeque with international flair. The family-friendly, picnic-style atmosphere continues June 23 with New Orleans flavored Otone Brass Brand, rhythm and blues group Phil Wiggins and George Kilby Jr. on July 7, contemporary jazz saxophonist Nelson Rangell on July 21, the U.S. Air Force Academy Falconaires Big Band Aug. 4 and sizzling salsa 12-piece Quemando on Aug. 18. With arts and crafts activities provided by Alpine Arts Center, entertainment options abound for every age group.

Vail Jazz @ The Market
Follow your ears to more free live music every Sunday beginning June 25 at the Vail Farmers Market with a rotating lineup of acclaimed regional acts at Vail Jazz @ The Market from 12 to 3 p.m. in the Solaris tent. Showcasing home-grown, Colorado talent, the series features longtime favorites like the Max Wagner Quartet (June 25), the Chuck Lamb Quartet (July 30), while also introducing new acts like Los Chicos Malos (July 2) and Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles (Aug. 20).

Vail Jazz @ The Remedy
The swanky club-scene of The Remedy and Vail valley jazz legends, Tony Gulizia and Brian Loftus (“BLT”) come together every Sunday night at 8 p.m. for Vail Jazz @ The Remedy. Held at the Four Seasons Resort, guest artists join BLT each week for memorable jam sessions beginning on June 25.

Tickets on sale:

All Vail Jazz Festival tickets are on sale now at vailjazz.org. For more information, visit vailjazz.org or call 888-VAIL-JAM.

The 23rd Annual Vail Jazz Festival is generously supported by the Town of Vail, Alpine Bank, The Lion Vail, The Jazz Cruise & Blue Note at Sea, Colorado Mountain Express, Kaiser Permanente, Anheuser-Busch, The Vail Daily, and a variety of Community Sponsors. For a complete list of events sponsors, visit vailjazz.org.