VAIL - After record attendance at their summer festival, the Vail Jazz Foundation will return with the second annual Winter Jazz Series to include three jazz concerts, including performances by Cyrille Aime & The Guitar Heroes, Tony Monaco Quartet and Bill Cunliffe. When Artistic Director Howard Stone announced the line-up for the Winter Jazz Series he noted: "Sometimes the Jazz Gods look down upon you with favor, and this year we have been blessed to book three top jazz performers that are compelling and captivating entertainers, who will cover a broad spectrum of appealing jazz styles so that there will truly be appealing for everyone, whether a hardcore jazz fan or just someone looking for a great musical experience." The series kicks off Feb. 20 with a collaboration with the Vilar Performing Arts Center featuring Cyrille Aime and the Guitar Heroes. Aimee, the winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocalist competition, thrilled audiences during the recent Labor Day Weekend Vail Jazz Party. A highly acclaimed up-and-coming jazz singer, Aime boasts a truly distinctive style that includes hints of her gypsy heritage combined with a sensual and sweet side. Singing in four languages, she will perform with a trio of guitarists, Frenchmen Michael Valeanu and Adrien Moignard and Brazilian Guilherme Monteiro. Rounding out the group will be Australians Rajiv Jayaweera on drums and Sam Anning on bass. Tickets are $32 and can be purchased at vilarpac.org or 970-845-TIXS.The Winter Jazz Series continues with the Tony Monaco Quartet performing two sets on March 14. Monaco is noted as one of today's finest Hammond B3 organ players on the jazz scene. Named the top B3 player for three consecutive years in Downbeat and Jazz Times magazines, he will fill the Fitz Lounge at Manor Vail with a mix of high energy soul and funk jazz along with the blues. The venue is an ideal "club" setting and the Quartet will perform two sets of music - 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are available for each seating at $20 in advance; $25 at the door. The Fitz will provide a menu for guests who want appetizers, a full dinner or dessert; and have a $10 food and beverage minimum for these performances. Monaco will be joined by Bob Rebholz on tenor saxophone, Bill Kopper on guitar and Vail's own Allan Finney on drums.The grand finale of the Winter Jazz Series will be a truly unique solo piano performance, "A Swingin" Affair, Bill Cunliffe Plays The Music of Frank Sinatra" at a Soire in a private home in Singletree. Tickets are $75 and include light appetizers, wine and an intimate look at one of the world's most iconic musical figures. A five-time Grammy nominee, Cunliffe won a Grammy in 2010 for his instrumental arrangement of a jazz version of "Westside Story." His insights into Frank Sinatra's music come first hand, as he toured with him early in his career. Cunliffe is a highly accomplished solo artist, arranger, composer and educator. This evening will raise funds for the Vail Jazz Workshop, of which Cunliffe is and has been the piano educator since its inception in 1996. Tickets for both the March 14 and March 30 show are available at www.vailjazz.org or 970-479-6146.
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