All that jazz

Silhouette of man playing saxophone



For those needing help diving into the world of jazz, KAFM Community Radio’s Don Neal will help. The avid jazz fan and knowledgeable programmer shared his top album picks for introducing people to jazz.

Some may be easier to find than others, Neal said.

Neal’s next show, “Straight No Chaser” is from 6:30–9 p.m. Wednesday, May 9. Not coincidentally, the show is named for a Thelonius Monk song.

■ Sidney Bechet’s “Master Takes: Victor Sessions,” a three-disc set (style: New Orleans jazz).

■ Louis Armstrong and Hot Five albums Volume 1 and 2 (style: New Orleans jazz).

■ Count Basie’s “Count Basie at Newport” (style: big band).

■ Chick Webb’s “Chick Webb’s and His Orchestra: 1935–1938” (style: big band).

■ Duke Ellington’s “Carnegie Hall Concerts, January 1943” (style: big band).

■ Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite — Ultimate Charlie Parker” (style: bebop).

■ Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy Gillespie at Newport” (style: bebop).

■ Thelonius Monk’s “Misterioso” (style: bebop).

■ Lee Morgan’s “Tom Cat” (style: hard bop).

■ Horace Silver’s “The Cape Verdean Blues” (style: hard bop).

■ Herbie Hancock’s “Takin’ Off” (style: hard bop).

■ Cannonball Adderly’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at ‘The Club’ ” (style: soul jazz).

■ Bobby Timmons’ “The Best of Bobby Timmons” (style: soul jazz).

■ Jimmy Smith’s “Midnight Special” (style: soul jazz).

■ Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar” (style: soul jazz).

■ Gene Harris’ “It’s the Real Soul” (style: soul jazz).

■ John Coltrane’s “Ascension” (style: free jazz)

■ Ornette Coleman’s “Beauty is a Rare Thing” compilation (style: free jazz).

■ Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” (style: modal jazz).

■ Cal Tjader’s “Black Orchid” (style: Latin jazz).

■ Poncho Sanchez’s “Latin Soul” (style: Latin jazz).

■ Chucho Valdés’ “Solo: Live in New York” (style: Latin jazz).

■ Miles Davis’ “In a Silent Way” (style: fusion).

■ Weather Report’s “Weather Report” (style: fusion).

JazzY Events

■ May 11 — Colorado Mesa University Faculty Jazz Quartet concert: This begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Colorado Mesa University Center Ballroom. Tickets are $45 and include hors d’oeuvres, coffee, dessert and a cash bar. There will be table seating like that of a New Orleans jazz club.

■ May 11–13 — 2012 Grand Junction Downtown Art and Jazz Festival: More than 80 artist booths and 10 jazz acts will participate in the free outdoors festival on Main Street between Third and Seventh streets. The stage will be at the corner of Fourth and Main streets.

■ June 2 — Durango Blues Train: Seven live acts play blues while passengers travel on The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad through San Juan National Forest. The train boards at 5:45 p.m. at the Durango depot. A limited number of tickets are available at $95 per person. Go to or call 877-872-4607 for information.

■ June 19, July 17 and Aug. 21 — Jazz Among the Grapevines: The Art Center Guild will present a three-part concert series featuring jazz music among the grapevines at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau. Each concert begins at 7 p.m. and lasts until dusk. This year’s musical acts, in order of appearance, are: Generations Jazz Ensemble, Brian Savage and Influx.

■ June 22–July 7 — Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival: This two-week festival includes nightly lawn parties at the Benedict Music Tent and four nights of concerts at Benedict Music Tent. This year’s acts are The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue (Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs), Joe Cocker, K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang, and Chris Botti. For information, go to or call Belly Up Aspen at 970-544-9800.

■ Aug. 3–5 — Telluride Jazz Festival: Jazz in all styles will be featured at this event held outdoors on two stages during the day and at theaters and clubs at night. Among the jazz artists featured this year are: Victor Wooten, Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gambarini, Nosotros and Soulive. For information, go to

■ Aug. 31–Sept. 2 — Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival: Arguably one of the country’s top jazz festivals, this western Colorado event hosts some of the biggest names in the industry. This year, the four acts set to appear are Kid Rock, Sugarland, Steve Miller Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. For information, go to

Jazz is nearly 100 years old, but that doesn’t mean the genre is easily explained, understood or even universally adored.

That’s OK, several local musicians agreed. When in doubt about the direction a jazz tune is headed, or whether it’s all that interesting, get up and dance. Soon, a song will come along better suited to your musical taste.

In the coming weeks and months, jazz music will take over a variety of western Colorado venues. And to better understand jazz — face it, jazz can seem dissonant — it’s best to understand that not all jazz is the same. After all, the genre originated nearly a century ago in New Orleans

“Don’t assume you know what it is until you listen to a lot of it,” said Tim Currey, a musician with the local jazz band Influx.

“Some will say that jazz was born in 1895, when Buddy Bolden started his first band. Others will say (it started) in 1917 when Nick LaRocca and his Original Dixieland Jazz Band,” according to, a website dedicated to New Orleans.

Either way, the music has had plenty of time to evolve across the United States and around the world.

Jazz has gone from the syncopated sounds of trumpet and cornet-focused New Orleans jazz of the late-1800s, to the complex international flair of more modern Latin jazz, with all kinds of styles in between, including complex harmonies, lyrical melodies and the development of instrumental solos most synonymous with jazz.

“The thing that bridges all different styles together is improvisation,” said Darin Kamstra, the director of jazz studies at Colorado Mesa University and a member of the Faculty Jazz Quartet.

New Orleans jazz gave way to the smoother more lyrical sounds of the big band era. After big band, came bebop, which had more instrumental virtuosity and a faster tempo, Kamstra said.

Bebop “is probably, today, the style most central to the ideals of jazz music,” he said.

Styles introduced after bebop in the late-1930s and early-1940s maintained that instrumental improvisation central to jazz. Names given to styles birthed in or after the 1950s include: soul jazz, free jazz, Latin jazz and fusion.

Although the number of influential jazz musicians has waned through the years, there are plenty of current singers and bands out there who play jazz music or whose music is heavily influenced by jazz, local musicians said.

Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Amy Winehouse and Adele are powerful modern female voices with blues and jazz vibes, said Currey, Influx bandmate Jason McGlynn and Dennis Reuss of Generations Jazz Ensemble.

Chicago, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Weather Report are more modern, recognizable jazz-style bands, they added.

“The goal of jazz is musicians are having fun, and, as a result, the audience is, too,” Reuss said.

“The band and the audience are one with the music.”

In terms of what style of jazz will be most popular in Grand Junction this summer, well, that’s tough to say, the musicians conceded.

“We could play the same tune twice in a row and play it completely differently but still musically,” Kamstra said.

“That’s the freedom of jazz,” McGlynn said.


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