There’s a forward-thinking quartet scheduled to play Denver’s Dazzle on June 9, and its performances will mark something of a homecoming for the band’s drummer.
Anyone familiar with the local jazz scene in recent years will nod in recognition at the mention of Colin Stranahan, a percussionist who impressed numerous Coloradans as a teenager, before going on to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk Drum Competition in 2012. In the years since, he’s been residing in Brooklyn (though he tells me it’s been a split residency between New York and Colorado since the beginning of the pandemic).
Stranahan holds down the drum chair in Kind Folk, a group of composers and bandleaders that has been together for a few years. Their new recording, “Head Towards the Center,” combines aspects of freedom in their playing with a sense of camaraderie that displays a trust that often takes collaborating artists a long time to develop. This is a group of musicians who know how to listen and respond to one another.
“We were talking through the pandemic about recording something representative of the times. There were a lot of projects about COVID and the negativity. We all started to bring music in, on Zoom calls, and we planned stuff out. In the summer of 2021, we safely set up in the studio. We’re really happy to have some other music to offer people,” says Stranahan.
Kind Folk’s latest album is often excellent in its ideas and execution. The four members (Stranahan, trumpeter John Raymond, alto saxophonist Alex LoRe and bassist Noam Wiesenberg) have concocted a set of challenging music that’s easy to take in; no small feat. The group takes its name from a composition by the late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, and if you’re open to that artist’s intuitive approach to the music, you’ll find a lot to like about “Head Towards the Center.”
As far as the June 9 Dazzle gig goes, Stranahan says we can “expect a night of new music. Music that everyone can relate to and take something away from. Expect a joyous evening filled with love and music.”
What more could you want?
Kind Folk Quartet, Dazzle Jazz, June 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-35. Get details at dazzledenver.com.
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As we process the news of Ellyn Rucker’s passing, it’s comforting to take an hour and listen to her 1993 performance and conversation on the NPR mainstay “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.” In the program, she discusses her rich history as a performer up to that point, as well as her contentment with life in Denver. I’ll remember her as a charming, intelligent person and interpreter of standards with an uncommon sensitivity. Her piano and vocal skills were equally wonderful, as anyone who encountered her at numerous Denver clubs over the decades can attest. Rest in peace.
A fixture on Denver’s jazz scene, Hazel Miller (pictured here in 2005) will perform at City Park Jazz. (Andy Cross, Denver Post file)
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More jazz in June:
The City Park Jazz schedule includes free shows from Mariachi Sol De Mi Terra on June 12, Hazel Miller & The Collective on June 19, drummer Paa Kow on June 26 and the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra on July 3. Get details at cityparkjazz.org. … The accomplished pianist Tigran Hamasyan plays the Boulder Theater June 8. … Femi Kuti and The Positive Force will perform a free show at Levitt Pavillon June 15. …Smooth saxophonist Kim Waters appears at the Soiled Dove Underground on June 17. … New Orleans’ Trombone Shorty, who just released a new album, “Lifted,” plays Red Rocks June 28. … Appearing at Denver’s Nocturne in June: the Ken Walker Sextet on the 25th, and the Big Swing Trio every Sunday. … The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience features Bria Skonberg, Christian McBride, Kamasi Washington, Wycliffe Gordon and more, June 23-26. Information: jazzaspensnowmass.org.
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