When you think jazz party, perhaps your imagination fills with the vision of a saxophone blowing colorful confetti or a tuxedoed pianist leaping out of a giant cake. No, no. Think bigger. Much bigger. Picture 30 of America’s most highly touted musicians — from saxophonists to sextets, gospel singers to lightning fast pianists — delivering high-energy live music around-the-clock for five straight days. Welcome to the 19th annual Labor Day weekend Jazz Party from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2.
Taking over the ballroom and cafe at the Vail Marriott and also the open-air Jazz Tent at Vail Square, here are some not-to-miss highlights throughout the around-the-clock party:
• A carefully selected contingent of 12 teenage musical geniuses, dubbed the Vail Jazz Workshop All-Stars, make their debut after 10 days of intense workshop training.
• Mentors for the young All-Stars, the famed Clayton Brothers Sextet take the stage in the Jazz Tent.
• Cyrille Aimee’s enchanting vocals weave hypnotically with Diego Figueiredo’s skilled guitar.
• All improv heroes, Shelly Berg, John Clayton, Ernie Adams and Ken Peplowski explore the History of Stride and Boogie Woogie Piano.
• Akiko Tsuruga rips on the Hammond B3 organ.
• The Vail Jazz Alumni Quartet — once workshop All-Stars — now shine as official jazz star recording artists.
• Diego Figueiredo and Ken Peplowski’s pay tribute to Charlie Byrd and the Bossa Nova Years.
• Jeff Clayton delivers his one-of-a kind Alto Show.
• Start your day with a romp at the Gospel Prayer Meetin’ starring Niki Haris, the Mile Hi Gospel Ensemble.
• Byron Stripling leads a multimedia tribute to Miles Davis.
• The Jeff Hamilton Trio light up Labor Day.
• Nearly every featured musician in the lineup takes a last turn in the tent.
For tickets, go to vailjazz.org or call 888-VAIL-JAM. Session tickets get you three- to five-hour sets of live music; the Patron Pass gets you the whole five-day shebang, including exclusive dinners with the artists on Saturday night. The Patron Pass is $385; daytime sessions are $55, evening sessions (including access to late night jams) are $75 if purchased in advance.