Colorado mountain jazz festivals are making a comeback in the summer of 2022, and live creativity (with a beat) at altitude kicks off this month and runs through Labor Day weekend.
Most of us want to do some traveling in the next several months, so why not head out for the high country? Here’s a rundown of the promising gatherings.
The Estes Park Jazz Festival adds “Blues” to its title and relocates to the Stanley Hotel Concert Hall on May 14. Colorado’s terrific Chris Daniels & The Kings headlines, and since you’re at the Stanley, why not make a weekend out of it and stay over? Hotel room packages as well as event-only tickets are available at tixr.com/groups/stanleyconcerthall/events/estes-jazz-blues-festival-34214.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass managed to put together an inviting lineup last year despite the pandemic, and it’s upping the game admirably in 2022, from June 23 to 26. Rising sax star Kamasi Washington, percussion legend Pancho Sanchez, the favored bassist of mainstream jazz Christian McBride, vocal group Take 6 and trumpeter Bria Skonberg will perform at various Aspen venues. It’s a strong lineup this year, and you can find out more at jazzaspensnowmass.org/june-experience-2022/.
Seekers of the smoother pleasures on the jazz spectrum will find plenty to take in at the return of the Winter Park Jazz Festival, July 16-17 at the Rendezvous Event Center. Headliners include Kem, Najee, Jazmin Ghent, the Special EFX All Stars, Chaka Khan, Jonathan Butler, Marion Meadows and Mindi Abair. That’s a lot of jazz and R&B-flavored music to take in over the course of two days. Find tickets at playwinterpark.com/jazzfest.
A crowd gathers at the main stage during the Linda Theus-Lee’s HeartStrings set at the Five Points Jazz Festival on May 18, 2019. (Kenzie Bruce, Special to the Denver Post)
The Telluride Jazz Festival has always been in contention for the best of the summer mountain celebrations, and from Aug. 12 to 14, listeners can experience respected veterans like vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, trumpeter Terence Blanchard and bassist Rufus Reid, as well as next-generation leaders like trumpeter Chief Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott) and vibraphonist Joel Ross, who just released an exquisite album, “The Parable Of The Poet,” on Blue Note Records.
The eclecticism of the festival’s programmers will also bring the singer-songwriter Yola and Colorado’s funky unit The Motet into the fold. It’s a long drive from the Front Range to Telluride, so you may want to consider lodging and camping arrangements to go with those tickets, at telluridejazz.org.
No other festival captures the spirit of the fabled Dick Gibson mountain jam sessions of the ‘60s like the Vail Jazz Party, taking place Sept. 1-5 at the Hythe Grand Ballroom. The house band features a lineup of performers who return every year: John Clayton, Wycliffe Gordon, Terell Stafford, Lewis Nash and more. These are artists who embody swing and intelligence, and there are numerous participants yet to be announced. If you’re familiar with any of these names, you know what to do: vailjazz.org/vail-jazz-party/.
Also returning in 2022: the Evergreen Jazz Festival, July 29-31. It’s reassuring that this community event will be back, and we’re awaiting an unveiling of this year’s lineup at evergreenjazz.org.
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Also, the Five Points Jazz Festival returns to Denver, in-person and free, on June 4. Performers include the Denver Jazz Trio, Joe Bonner Legacy Jam Session, the Annie Booth Sextet, the Rico Jones Quartet, Purnell Steen and the Five Points Ambassadors, The Colorado Mambo Orchestra, The Gabriel Santiago Project and many more. See the full lineup at artsandvenuesdenver.com.
And more jazz in May:
Dazzle is kicking off this month with a few well-respected names in the music: vocalist Curtis Stigers May 4-5, keyboardist Erik Deutsch May 6-7 and bassist Christian McBride with his band Inside Straight May 10-12. Denver trumpeter Greg Gisbert plays Nocturne on Fridays in May, beginning on May 14.
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