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.

Lights on the ladies of jazz at the 19th Annual Vail Jazz Festival

Meet the five big-time female artists at this year’s Vail Labor Day Weekend Party.

Like any history, the history of jazz has been marked by some very notable ‘hers’. There’s been Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ellie Fitzgerald … the list goes on.

Of all the contemporary favorites bound to one day find a place on this iconic list, the 19th annual Vail Jazz Labor Day Weekend Party features some awe-inspiring potential candidates.

The five-day live music celebration is stacked with more than 30 of the country’s most highly acclaimed artists. From Shelly Berg’s History of Stride and Boogie Woogie to Byron Stripling’s tribute to Miles Davis, the weekend is of course bubbling with dynamic sets of straight-up jazz, but the lineup and styles also reach every possible corner of the rather vast umbrella of what we know as jazz music.

“You can really say to the few naysayers out there saying that jazz is dying, ‘Hey! Look at Vail,” says Vail Jazz Party pioneer and director of education John Clayton. “What’s happened is, through the years, people have grown to trust [founder and developer] Howard Stone and trust his taste. There will be people the Vail Jazz supporters have never heard of, but they know they’ll always, always go home from a jazz performance and say, ‘God, that was great.’”

Among the greats at this year’s jazz party, there are five female artists that are unquestionable standouts.

 

Niki Haris

Although some might consider gospel in a classification other than jazz, anyone who’s attended Niki Haris’s Gospel Prayer Meetin’ knows that the same elements that define the jazz genre are on fervent display. “The word gospel means ‘good’ and many voices speaking about one good. All races, all colors come together to be part of this spiritual celebration,” says Haris, who is a singer, songwriter, dancer and choreographer and will be performing several times throughout the weekend culminating in her 9:30 a.m. Sunday Prayer Meetin,’ featuring the Mile High Gospel Ensemble and for the first time in history, including lyrics for the audience to not only clap along but raise their voices too.

“Jazz is about freedom of expression,” she says. “I’m so happy and proud that [Vail Jazz Party organizers] have taken a step out and made this gospel prayer spiritual meeting to be an integral part of this festival. Not only do they love jazz but they understand the core of it.”

Gospel is only one of Haris’ points of focus, as she has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Mick Jagger and spent 18 years touring and recording with Madonna. Along with the Gospel Ensemble and several special guests, Haris delivers what’s arguably the highest energy performance of the whole festival, guaranteed to have everyone in the Jazz Tent on their feet, singing, clapping and swaying.

“I love the entire energy of the Vail Jazz Festival but one of the best parts is that it is set in the most pristine, beautiful part of the country,” Haris says. “I always say God was having a great day when he made Vail, Colorado – or should I say she? The point is, this is the world we all want to see – everyone celebrating in their own way to whatever God they serve. We’re all here together.”

 

Cyrille Aimeé

Performing several times throughout the weekend beginning on Friday night, Cyrille Aimeé’s enchanting vocals have won her first place in the esteemed Montreaux Voice Competition and have also landed her on the list of most acclaimed regular artists on the New York City jazz scene.

With a French father and Dominican mother, Aimeé has spent much of her life in both France and the Dominican Republic and her singing style resonates with influences from each – the hypnotic rhythms of traditional Domican beats and also some spice of French gypsy swing.

 

Tia Fuller

Does the name Beyoncé ring a bell? You may recall the international star’s unforgettable all-female band from such highlight reels as last year’s Super Bowl halftime show and among this glittering group, Tia Fuller on saxophone was a standout.

The Colorado native is also well-versed in piano and flute and co-directs Esperanza Spalding’s rising band, the Radio Society.

Fuller was a student in the Vail Jazz Workshop in 1996 and is back at this weekend’s Jazz Party with the Vail Alumni Quartet to demonstrate to the valley just what heights she has reached with her talent and her career.

 

Akiko Tsuruga

Another Vail Jazz Party favorite, Akiko Tsuruga has been known to spark audiences to attention by striding onstage in a traditional kimono and attack her B3 organ as if it were the last night of her life.

Since moving to New York City, the native of Osaka, Japan has established herself as a crowd-pleasing mainstay at Jazz at Lincoln Center and has also won over many an audience headlining Birdland and Blue Note.

She will be performing Saturday and Monday afternoons in the Jazz Tent.

 

Karen Hammack

First lured by blues piano at the age of 14, Karen Hammack quickly embarked on her singer/songwriter career incorporating all elements of jazz, gospel, funk, soul and rock and is now a master recording artist with a long list of original numbers that have been singled out for their heart-gripping sincerity.

Hailing from California, Hammack has worked with Jackson Brown, Michael McDonald, Bill Frisell and a slew of others and recently released her latest, 14-track album, My Beating Heart.

She delivers riveting solo performances Saturday and Monday in the Jazz Tent and will also be the music director and pianist for Niki Haris’s Gospel Prayer Meetin’ on Sunday.

 

Running today through Monday, tickets to this year’s Labor Day Jazz Party are close to sold out. For more information on availability and more info on performances, visit vailjazz.org or call 1-888-VAIL-JAM.

Line up for 19th Annual Vail Jazz Festival Announced

March 20, 2013 – Vail, Colorado – The Vail Jazz Foundation announces the line-up of world class jazz performers for Thursday night Jazz @ Vail Square concert series and the Labor Day Weekend Jazz Party, both part of the 19th Annual Vail Jazz Festival.

“Last year’s line-up set the bar very high for Vail Jazz, but this summer’s schedule surpasses anything we have done in our 19 year history. While ‘Jazz’ is only a four letter word, it covers a lot of musical territory, including blues, Latin, swing, Brazilian, Gospel, straight ahead, bebop and beyond, and we will offer it all and much more over a spectacular 12 week summer Jazz Festival,” said Howard Stone, the chairman and artistic director of the Vail Jazz Foundation.

 

VAIL JAZZ AND BRAVO! VAIL

Vail Jazz will once again collaborate with Bravo! Vail by jointly presenting four performances, the first of which will be on June 28th at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. “The Golden Age of Jazz” will be Bravo! Vail’s season opener and will feature jazz artists Byron Stripling, Jeff Clayton and Wycliffe Gordon along with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jeff Tyzik. In addition, Vail Jazz and Bravo! Vail will once again present the very popular “Jazz After” series of jam sessions on June 29, July 10 and July 24, with performances by members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. Tickets for Jazz After will go on sale soon.

 

JAZZ @ THE MARKET AND JAMMIN’ JAZZ KIDS

In addition, the very popular Jazz @ The Market returns to the Vail Farmers’ Market each Sunday, June 23- August 25th, with free shows in the jazz tent on the green at Solaris. For the first time Vail Jazz will introduce Jammin’ Jazz Kids, which includes elements of the popular Jazz Goes to School program as complimentary programming with the Jazz @ The Market series. On three Sundays, July 7, 28 and August 18, prior to the performance in the jazz tent, children ages 6 to 12 are invited to join jazz musicians for an interactive, educational jazz experience that allows each participant a hands-on opportunity to learn the fundamentals of jazz. Participating youth will play a variety of percussion instruments – maracas, bongos, congas, tambourines, xylophones and Orff instruments. In addition, they will listen to and join with jazz musicians in playing music and learning the art of improvisation.

 

JAZZ @ VAIL SQUARE

The 9-show series of Jazz @ Vail Square returns beginning on July 4 th and running through August 29th . The series opens on July 4 th as Vail Jazz pays tribute to “The Red, White & The Blues” featuring a double billed line-up of Vail favorite Curtist Stigers and New York blues man, SaRon Crenshaw and continues with Cuban sensation Wil Campa y su Gran Union, jazz guitar duo Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, John Pizzarelli Quartet, Tommy Igoe Sextet, Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and the Clayton Brothers Sextet and their students, the Vail Jazz All-Stars. The All-Stars, twelve of the best high school-aged jazz musicians, will have spent 10 days leading up to Labor Day Weekend under the tutelage of the Clayton Brothers Sextet. The Vail Jazz Workshop is widely known as the pre-eminent jazz education program in the country for young jazz musicians and serves as a launching pad for future jazz professionals.

Preferred seating will be available for $20 in advance; $25 day of show or for $99 for the nine-series Jazz Pass. “Preferred seating give guests the ability to get their choice of seats,” says Executive Director Robin Litt. “These tickets and the Jazz Pass allow you to arrive at your leisure and know that you will have a premium spot to enjoy the performance.” The remainder of the tent will remain free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Recommended donation of $5 is encouraged to support the 501(c)(3) Vail Jazz Foundation, which produces the Vail Jazz Festival and its unique educational programming that are at the core of its mission.

 

THE VAIL JAZZ PARTY

Labor Day Weekend marks the 19 th Annual Vail Jazz Party, a unique party format designed so every musician is featured every day of the holiday weekend, in many cases in a jam session format. Audience members have the opportunity to interact with performers in an intimate and special setting. This year’s Party features new and returning groups, accomplished soloists and a variety of special shows designed to both educate and entertain. 2013 will bring together a list of who’s who in jazz today. Favorites from 2012, Cyrille Aimée and Diego Figuerido, return after wowing Vail guests and residents in their debut appearance. Festival favorites, the Clayton Brothers Sextet (John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Lewis Nash and Bill Cunliffe) will perform throughout the weekend, together and in multiple configurations, serving as anchor and a major force at the Vail Jazz Party. Drummer Jeff Hamilton will be joined by his trio mates Tamir Hendelman on piano and Christoph Luty on bass. The Vail Jazz Alumni Quartet, all past members of the Vail Jazz Workshop and current touring musicians, will be composed of Sullivan Fortner, piano, David Wong, bass, Jimmy Macbride, drums and Tia Fuller, saxophone.

The Vail Jazz Party is known for its creative and entertaining educational programming through the presentation of muti-media presentations. Special shows in 2013 will include Shelly Berg’s MultiMedia History of Stride and Boogie Woogie Piano, Jeff Clayton’s Alto Show, Ken Peplowski & Diego Figueiredo’s Tribute to Charlie Byrd and the Bossa Nova Years, and Byron Stripling’s MultiMedia Salute to Miles Davis. The Vail Jazz All-Stars will also be featured in free performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The extremely popular Sunday morning Gospel show will once again be presented, but with some very special added features: joining Niki Haris’ Gospel Prayer Meetin’ will be the Mile Hi Gospel Ensemble; and the audience will be invited to sing along with Niki and the choir as songe lyrics will be provided to the audience.

Solosist include familiar faces to the Vail Jazz Party, including Ernie Adams ,drums, Karen Hammack, piano, Byron Stripling, trumpet and vocals. Newcomers to Vail will be Bruce Forman, guitar, Ken Peplowski, tenor sax, and Akiko Tsuruga, Hammond B-3 organ.

The Vail Jazz Party offers over 30 hours of jazz over a five day period, with jazz shows taking place at the Jazz Tent at Vail Square on Thursday night and during the days on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and at the event’s host hotel, the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in the Ballroom on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Late night sets that go into the early morning hours take place at “Wing’s Place” at the Marriott and create a real jam session atmosphere for artists to stretch out and have a “musical conversation” with their peers. Jazz music floods Vail with over eight separate shows featuring multiple sets in each show.

When Howard Stone was asked to explain why the Jazz Party is so special, the usually loquacious Stone said, “Unfortunately, words cannot adequately describe the magic that takes place over the Labor Day Weekend. Suffice it to say that when you get 30 of the best jazz musician together with a crowd of passionate jazz fans in a beautiful place like Vail, great jazz happens.”

The line-up of artists for Jazz @ The Market and the Sunday night series, Jazz @ Kelly Liken, will be announced in early May.

 

PASSES NOW ON SALE

Patron Passes for the Vail Jazz Party are now on sale at www.vailjazz.org and by calling 888-VAIL JAM or 970-479-6146. The $385 Patron Pass includes priority access to all eight performances, exclusive opening night party on Thursday and dinner with the artists on Saturday. Gift certificates are also available. Tickets to Jazz @ Vail Square, Jazz After jazz jams and individual session tickets for Vail Jazz Party will go on sale soon. Lodging and travel discounts are provided to Jazz Party attendees. Information is available at www.vailjazz.org .

The story behind a 50-year-old Colorado music tradition

There are certain things that naturally go together – Colorado and skiing, for example. However, there is another pairing that might not be so obvious – Colorado and jazz. When the Vail Jazz Festival presents its 18th annual Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day weekend, it will continue a Colorado jazz tradition that is 50 years old and was nurtured right here in Vail.

The story begins in 1963 when Dick Gibson, a Denver businessman, gathered together jazz musicians and friends in an Aspen hotel over the three-day Labor Day weekend to have a party. That weekend, he created the first Jazz Party, a format that combined jazz musicians and fans in an intimate atmosphere with various combinations of musicians performing in jam sessions all weekend long.

Dick’s inaugural Jazz Party was a huge hit, and he presented an encore over the following Labor Day weekend in Vail. Dick was friends with Vail locals Marge and Larry Burdick, Bettan Laughlin and Billy Whiteford, who joined him to present the next edition at Casino Vail, the original “nightclub” in the heart of the Village. (In 1964 it was the largest venue in Vail.) Another great success was realized.

Dick ultimately moved the annual Jazz Party out of the mountains and down to the Front Range where Colorado Springs and Denver became the host cities for years. During his 30-year run, Dick presented an all-star lineup that featured some of the greatest musicians in the world. At a time when rock music began to overshadow jazz, these annual gatherings became a very important reunion of sorts between fans and players in the most relaxed and awe-inspiring venues one could imagine.

The fame of Dick Gibson’s Jazz Party spread with attendees traveling to Colorado from all around the world to attend the annual gathering. With limited seating at the party, jazz fans were often put on waiting lists. I was one of the lucky ones that attended many of these legendary Jazz Parties and when Dick retired, I was inspired to start the Vail Jazz Festival, motivated to carry on the great Colorado jazz tradition that he had created. The fame of the Jazz Party was so great, a documentary film was made about it called “The Great Rocky Mountain Jazz Party.”

Dick died in 1998 and the Mississippi Rag observed in his obituary, “The (jazz party) concept … reinvigorated the jazz scene and led to the creation of jazz parties elsewhere.” It is reported that there were as many as 150 other jazz parties throughout the United States in the 1990s and of course, Vail became home to one of the best.

This Labor Day weekend you will have the opportunity to come to the Vail Jazz Party to see and hear why, for 50 years, jazz fans have come to Colorado to hear and see the greatest jazz musicians on the planet.

Howard Stone is the founder and artistic director of the Vail Jazz Foundation, which produces the annual Vail Jazz Festival. Now in its 18th year, the Vail Jazz Festival is a summerlong celebration of jazz music. The festival culminates with the Labor Day weekend Vail Jazz Party. Visitwww.vailjazz.org.

 

Vail Jazz Announces Stellar Lineup for Vail Square

August 19, 2011 – Vail, Colorado – The Vail Jazz Foundation is gearing up for the 17 th annual Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day Weekend featuring over 30 jazz musicians performing over five days and four nights of traditional jazz. The performances will be held both in their traditional cabaret venue inside the Marriott Grand Ballroom, with five dynamic shows presented in the open air in Vail Square, Lionshead.

“We really pulled out all the stops in 2011,’ said Howard Stone, chairman and artistic director of the Vail Jazz Foundation. “Monty Alexander will celebrate his 35 reunion with Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton, but that’s just the beginning. Some of the finest jazz musicians on earth will be here over Labor Day Weekend – and together they’ll create the magic that is the Vail Jazz Party.” continued Stone.

The Vail Jazz Party, also known as the Labor Day Weekend Party, is the culmination of the summer long Vail Jazz Festival. This unique mix of world-class musicians utilizes a one-of-akind format that includes group performances, multi-artist jam sessions and inspiring multimedia salutes to Jazz legends. The festival’s party atmosphere is ensured by the bringing together of today’s rising stars and the true jazz veterans – jamming in an intimate venue, surrounded by the natural beauty of Vail. With over twenty-four hours of performances throughout the weekend (morning, noon and night), the audience and musicians are connected in a manner that consistently inspires great performances. The Vail Jazz Festival boasts a unique party spirit that attracts musicians and jazz lovers from all over the world.

Confirmed artists for the Labor Day Weekend Jazz Party include accomplished soloists, enlightening multimedia tributes to jazz legends, and dynamic jazz groups. Grammy winning arranger and pianist Bill Cunliffe will present a tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet, while Louis Armstrong will be saluted by Byron Stripling. Back by popular demand will be trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, drummer Ernie Adams, and vocalist Niki Haris. The Clayton Brothers Quintet anchors the five night, four day festival; consisting of John and Jeff Clayton, Terrell Stafford, Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash, the member of the Quintet are educators-in-residence for the annual Vail Jazz Workshop, a week-long intensive course for 12 of the most promising high school-aged jazz musicians in North America, which takes place in Vail during the week before Labor Day. The workshop students perform as the Vail Jazz All Stars, debuting Thursday, September 1 with the Clayton Brothers Quintet at Vail Square.

17TH ANNUAL VAIL JAZZ PARTY – SEPTEMBER 1-5, VAIL COLORADO

GROUPS

Monty Alexander Trio – The Reunion

Clayton Brothers Quintet

Bill Cunliffe’s Multi Media Salute to the Modern Jazz Quartet

Dena DeRose Trio

Terell Stafford Quintet

Byron Stripling’s Multi Media Salute to Louis Armstrong

Vail Jazz All-Stars

SOLOISTS Ernie Adams

Shelly Berg

Graham Dechter

Bobby Floyd

Wycliffe Gordon

Jeff Hamilton

Niki Haris

Jay Hoggard

Tom Kennedy

Byron Stripling

Dave Tull

Jerry Weldon

 

Tickets, Passes and More Information

Tickets, passes, and gift certificates to the Labor Day Jazz Party can be purchased through the Vail Jazz Foundation office at 970.479.6146, or 888-VAILJAM (824-5526). Afternoon sessions are $45 ($55 after August 15), evening sessions are $55 ($65 after August 15), an all event pass including preferred seating, Friday wine tasting and Saturday dinner with the artists is $350/person, and students with ID are free with a paid adult ticket at morning and afternoon sessions.

Online tickets are available for purchase at www.vailjazz.org, or purchase them now by phone at 970.479.6146, or 888-VAILJAM (824-5526).

 

About the Vail Jazz Foundation

The Vail Jazz Foundation (VJF)’s mission is to perpetuate 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. By taking jazz into the schools, the VJF hopes to create an awareness at a younger level, thus creating future audiences and potentially, future jazz musicians. The VJF is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization that is funded by private and corporate donations as well as grants, and is based in Vail, Colorado.

 

Sponsors

The Vail Jazz Festival is generously sponsored by Alpine Bank, Colorado Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, EverVail, The Jazz Cruise, Vail Resorts Echo, Vilar PAC Community Use Fund, Colorado Mountain Express, Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Londer Vineyards, Ravenscroft Pianos, United Way Eagle River Valley, Vail Valley Foundation, Vilar Performing Arts Center Beaver Creek, and numerous other corporate and private donors.