How a Three-Fingered Gypsy and Electricity Changed Jazz Guitar Forever

Long before the amplification and electrification of musical instruments, there was a simple truth: the louder you could play, the more likely you would be heard.

In jazz, tubas overwhelmed basses, trumpets trumped guitars, and so on. Brass bands dominated in early jazz and guitars were like children of the day, they could be seen but were not to be heard. Amplification leveled the playing field (pun intended). Amplify a bass and out goes the tuba, replaced by a more lyrical way of keeping time. Do the same for a guitar and it has a “voice” that can be heard alongside the other instruments in the band. Electrify the guitar or the bass and a star is born. And while the sound output of an instrument can be enhanced by amplification, the “electrification” of an instrument not only increases the potential volume of sound output, but in most cases, changes the sound the instrument is capable of making. With an acoustic guitar, the vibration of the strings resonate in the body of the guitar and we “hear” the guitar. In an electric guitar, a pickup converts the vibration of the strings into electrical impulses and with the advances in electronics all manner of sound can be created. An acoustic guitar has a sound that if properly amplified, still sounds like an acoustic instrument. An electric guitar can sound pretty much like anything you want it to sound like.

Initially the banjo was featured in small jazz ensembles, but over time the guitar replaced the banjo, joining the piano, drums and bass as a member of the rhythm section.The ability to strum a guitar in a rhythmic fashion allowed it to become an important instrument used to reinforce the beat and that is where the guitar sat for a long time. However in the 1930s things began to change, brought about by two of the most important early jazz guitar players of the today. Separated by an ocean and culture, each in his own way set in motion a dramatic shift in the role of the guitar in jazz. One was a three figured Gypsy from France, Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt, and the other, Charlie Christian, the African American son of a blind itinerant blues singer from Texas. Neither of them could read music, but that didn’t matter.

Django was badly burned in a camp fire at the age of 18, losing the use of two fingers on his left hand. He overcame the disability by inventing a unique fingering technique and by the ‘30s, he was touring internationally and becoming one of the most important jazz guitarists of all time. As a founding member of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, he invented a style of jazz that has been played for over 80 years and propelled the guitar to the top of the world of jazz before the invention of the electric guitar.

Charlie was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace the electric guitar as his instrument of choice. It is said that he was influenced by the use of the electric guitar in Western Swing music. Joining Benny Goodman as a member of his sextet in August of 1939, it was rare for an African American to play in a white band at the time, but Goodman had already broken the race barrier with Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. Charlie was a prodigious improviser and an important participant in the transitioning of jazz from swing to bebop. Using his singlestring technique on an electric guitar to move the instrument to the front of the band, Charlie helped change the direction of jazz forever. Unfortunately for the world, he died at 25, less than 3 years after joining Goodman.

John Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo are three of the top jazz guitarists in the world today, each having been greatly influenced by Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, as have generations of guitarists before them. Vail Jazz is pleased to present these jazz giants in Vail during our 20th Anniversary Vail Jazz Festival. John Pizzarelli will be the guest soloist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on June 27. Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo will be sitting in at the “Jazz After” jam with members of the DSO on the evening of July 2 at Larkspur, playing at the Jazz @ Vail Square show on the evening of July 3 and performing on the Vail Jazz float in the July 4th parade in Vail.

For tickets to any of these jazz guitar performances, visit vailjazz.org.

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

Jazz Goes to School returns for Session 2

December 31, 2013 – Vail, Colorado Jazz Goes to School, The Vail Jazz Foundation’s jazz education program for 4 th and 5th graders, returns to Eagle County schools January 13-16, 2014.

The program features a quintet of professional musician/educators who travel to 15 local elementary schools to share their love of jazz and American history, and inspire young people to embrace jazz: America’s own art form.

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

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

Later in the Jazz Goes to School curriculum, the older students try their hand at writing their own jazz music. The final concert includes blues compositions created by the fifth graders, performed in medley at the final concert.

Gulizia is not the only one who appreciates how Jazz Goes to School makes a difference for local kids. Vail Resorts Echo, the company’s philanthropy program, has identified Jazz Goes to School as a necessary and valuable way to help bring the arts into our schools. “Vail Resorts supports Jazz Goes to School as an incredibly important program that teaches the wonders of Jazz to the children of Eagle County,” said Nicky DeFord, Manager of Charitable Giving for Vail Resorts Echo. Additionally, Alpine Bank’s grant to The Vail Jazz Foundation provides funds to bring the accomplished jazz instructors into all elementary schools in the region.

“We encourage parents of 4th and 5th graders to attend their children’s programs to share their enthusiasm for what they’re learning. Their love for the program can be really infectious!” says Robin Litt, Executive Director of The Vail Jazz Foundation.

Tony Gulizia (keyboard and vocals), directs the Jazz Goes to School program for the Vail Jazz Foundation. Gulizia is joined by his brother Joey, who is also a professional jazz musician and educator, on drums. Other musician/educators performing this week include Andy Hall (bass), Roger Neumann (saxophone), and Mike Gurciullo (trumpet).

 

About Jazz Goes To School

Jazz Goes to School, which is in its 16th year, supports and promotes the jazz art form with a focus on educating young musicians and young audiences – fulfilling the mission of the Vail Jazz Foundation. Jazz Goes to School is presented by The Vail Jazz Foundation (VJF) to Eagle County 4 th and 5 th graders, including all public schools plus the Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Elementary Schools, and St. Clare of Assisi. Jazz Goes to School reaches over 1,100 students each year, and has exposed over 15,000 school students to the course about this uniquely American art form.

Elements of Jazz Goes to School will be presented in a summer program entitled Jammin’ Jazz Kids at the Vail Farmers’ Market as part of Vail Jazz’s weekly free Jazz @ The Market series in July, 2014.

The Vail Jazz Foundation is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2014.

Jazz Goes to School offers a unique interactive learning experience that enhances the basic school curriculum and is provided free of charge, thanks to each school’s PTO and program sponsors, including Vail Resorts Echo, Alpine Bank, Colorado Mountain Express (Official Transportation Provider), Eagle County RE-50J School District, Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, United Way of Eagle River Valley, Vilar Center Community Performance Fund, and East West Resorts, Antlers at Vail and other corporate sponsors and individual donors.

Jazz Goes to School hits schools for 16th year!

September 30, 2013 – Vail, Colorado – Jazz Goes to School, the Vail Jazz Foundation’s jazz education program for Eagle County 4th and 5th graders, returns to schools the week of September 30th.

The innovative educational program features professional musician/educators who visit with 16 local schools to share their love and knowledge of jazz and American History, and inspire young people to embrace jazz: America’s own art form.

“After recently concluding our most successful summer jazz festival,” says Executive Director Robin Litt, “we are more excited than ever to bring jazz to local school kids. There’s nothing like Jazz Goes to School elsewhere in the country, and we are privileged to have such a talented teaching staff lead the program.”

Jazz Goes to School, now in its sixteenth year, supports and promotes the jazz art form with a focus on educating young musicians and young audiences – fulfilling the mission of The Vail Jazz Foundation.

This first session of the four part program traces the evolution of the music from its origins in Africa and the American south through to today’s jazz.

Local jazz musician and program director Tony Gulizia explains, “We look at the geographical movement of Senegalese, Yorbuba-Dahomean and Ashantis slaves to the United States. We examine their customs and culture with a particular emphasis on the musical traditions they brought to America.”

The history of great jazz giants, such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy, Scott Joplin, King Oliver, Kid Ory, and how the migration of the black population brings the blues to New Orleans is also featured in this lesson.

Additionally, the history of many musical instruments is discussed, and students are encouraged to try their hand at playing special percussion instruments from West Africa. Students learn about African rhythms which found their way to New Orleans, where they began to blend with European church music.

Tony Gulizia (keyboard and vocals), directs the Jazz Goes to School program for the 16 th year for The Vail Jazz Foundation. For this first session, Gulizia is joined by his brother Joey, who is also a professional jazz musician and educator, on drums and Michael Pujado, on percussion.

Subsequent sessions include up to six jazz musicians as they share their various functions within the jazz band.

 

About Jazz Goes To School

Jazz Goes to School is presented by The Vail Jazz Foundation to Eagle County fourth and fifth graders, including all public schools plus the Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Charter School and St. Clare of Assisi.

Jazz Goes to School reaches over 1,100 students each year, and has exposed over 14,000 school students to a course about this uniquely American art form.

The final session in the spring is a true jazz concert performed by the Jazz Goes to School Sextet at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.

Jazz Goes to School offers a unique interactive learning experience that enhances the basic school curriculum and is provided free of charge, thanks to each school’s PTO and supported with grants from: Alpine Bank, United Way Eagle River Valley and Vail Resorts Echo, along with festival sponsors: AT&T, Alpine Party Rentals, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Mountain Express – Official Transportation Provider, Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, The Jazz Cruise, KUVO 89.3 & KVJZ 88.5 Jazz Public Radio, Vail Daily, Vilar Center Community Fund, Woods and Son Pianos and Yamaha. In addition, individual donations support Jazz Goes to School.

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.