VAIL — 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 more than 40 performances spanning 12 weeks, offerings will include free and outdoor concerts, large format performances as well as intimate soirees.
“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 Sept. 1. It addresses 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 27 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 at The Market series.
Jazz After jam sessions at Larkspur will continue in partnership with Bravo! Vail following performances at the Ford Amphitheater. The cornerstone of Vail Jazz summer activities is the weekly series at Lionshead each Thursday night, Jazz at Vail Square. Artists will include Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express, John Pizzarelli Quartet, pianist Tony DeSare, and Vail Jazz “House Band” made up of John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash. The full lineup will be announced in March.
The grand finale of the festival takes place over Labor Day weekend with the Vail Jazz Party. The party brings the audience up close with more than 40 artists, who will jam for more than 35 hours over Labor Day weekend. Artists who will perform along with the House Band during 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. Tickets for the Vail Jazz Party will go on sale in March.
“We’ll have more exciting programming over Labor Day weekend than ever before — and we already have a packed weekend of music,” Litt said. “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.”
The line-up of artists for Jazz at The Market and the Sunday night Jazz at Kelly Liken series, as well as Jazz After, jazz jams with Bravo! Vail will be announced in the spring. The full schedule for Jazz at Vail Square will be announced at the same time.