10 reasons not to miss the 2019 Vail Jazz Winter Series
It can be argued that live jazz is best enjoyed in a warm, classy lounge with snow falling outside. This is just one of many reasons to secure your spot at the 2019 Vail Jazz Winter Series.
It is widely known that jazz became popular in the 1930s, but its heyday in Vail has gone on for 25 years — with the best is still to come. That’s yet another reason to look into what Vail Jazz has cooking this winter. But here are the big 10:
1. It’s Vail Jazz’ silver anniversary, so the Series is going big.
Following the holiday kickoff extravaganza, a swing dance party at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch with New York City’s sizzling eight-piece The Hot Sardines, the 2019 winter series is delivering more than ever before — seven evenings of live music throughout the winter. Five of these sparkling nights take place in the swanky lounge setting of Ludwig’s Terrace at Vail’s Sonnenalp Hotel.
2. Entertainment for both the apres crowd and the late-nighters.
World-class artists light up the Sonnenalp Hotel on Feb. 26, March 5, March 12, March 19 and March 26 in a true jazz club format of back-to-back performances. The first seating appeals to the apres-ski crowd at 5:30 p.m. and the second targets late-night live music seekers at 8 p.m. Full dinner and bar service are available at each seating.
3. When we say the 2019 lineup is ‘world-class,’ we mean it.
The winter series lineup is comprised of the most talented artists in today’s jazz world; lauded not only in the U.S., but across the globe. After his sold-out Vail debut last summer, American blues pianist and vocalist Joe McBride returns on Feb. 26, followed by French-born songstress Cyrille Aimee on March 5, the charismatic Emmet Cohen Trio on March 12, soulful gospel favorite Niki Haris on March 19 and finally Grammy-nominated pianist John Chin on March 26.
That’s not to mention the intimate display at private residences for the series’ invite-only gigs. Former Stevie Wonder band member and vocalist Robert Johnson performs with The Mark Diamond Trio on March 2 and Australian multi-instrumentalist Adrian Cunningham on March 30.
4. Jazz has many musical wings and rhythm and blues is one of them.
Joe McBride has oft been compared to Ray Charles. While the two share many characteristics — losing their eyesight at a young age followed by rapid development of tremendous vocal and piano skills — McBride has a sound all his own, even when he’s rolling through America’s favorite blues tunes. The Missouri native has recorded and shared the stage with everyone from Whitney Houston to Larry Carlton. He channels the spirits of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and other rhythm and blues Songbook masters with his own smokin’ energy and style on Feb. 26.
5. A voice that will hypnotize.
Anyone who has trouble believing that vocal cords are a serious instrument has never heard or witnessed the enchantment of Cyrille Aimee. The young singer’s versatile vocal talents have been noted worldwide, from her native France, where she won the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival Competition, to New York City, where she’s won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and her voice has been enthusiastically described as everything from “saucy” to “sweet” by New York Times reviewers.
6. Lose yourself in musical passion.
The power of The Emmet Cohen Trio is all-encompassing, like walking into a tunnel of sound where every one of your senses is simultaneously enlivened yet relaxed. A musical prodigy from the age of 3, Emmet Cohen’s piano compositions and delivery run the gamut from fluid to explosive. The Trio hits every bar of tone and color on the jazz palette on March 12.
7. The rare treat of experiencing Niki Haris on a small stage.
Every year at the end-of-summer climax event, the Vail Jazz Party, the first tickets to sell out are for Niki Haris’ Gospel Prayer Meetin’. The incredible soul singer who spent years touring with Madonna might be making a rarefied appearance on a smaller, indoor stage, but you can rest assured that her output will be as large and in-charge as ever. She gambols through a potent gamut of romping numbers while saluting her fellow sisters of soul on March 19.
8. The opportunity to witness John Chin before he’s swept up in big-time stardom.
Born in South Korea and raised in California before moving to New York City and becoming a fixture of the Big Apple’s deep talent pool, John Chin draws inspiration not only from traditional jazz, but from pop and western classical genres in his unique compositions. He’s released four albums as a bandleader and was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on Rene Marie’s 2017 “Sound of Red” release. If you caught him performing with Marie in her Vail debut a couple of summers ago, you know he’s on a skyward trajectory. Don’t miss him at the Sonnenalp Hotel on March 26.
9. Supporting the future of musical talent, locally and globally.
In addition to bringing in some of the world’s finest artists for the winter series and the pageant of free and ticketed summer performances, Vail Jazz also does its part in fostering generations of musicians to come through unique educational programs. These include the year-round Vail Jazz Goes to School program as well as the free summertime Jammin’ Jazz Kids sessions and the Vail Jazz Workshop, which selects and finances 12 of America’s top teenage musical prodigies in an intensive, weeklong study group that culminates with live performances at the Vail Jazz Labor Day Weekend Party. Every ticket purchased for a Vail Jazz performance or a donation made directly supports the nonprofit’s educational initiatives which, in turn, secures amazing talent for our children and their children to enjoy.
10. Classy date night.
It’s a beautiful, cold, wintery night and there you are, cozied up with your loved one in the elegant Ludwig’s Terrace with a glass of wine and gourmet meal on the table and one of the planet’s most talented musicians provided a scintillating live soundtrack a few feet away. A night out in Vail doesn’t really get more romantic.
For tickets or more information on Vail Jazz’s 25th anniversary Winter Series, visit vailjazz.org or call 970-479-6146.
Kevin Clair of Sweet Basil received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association
The Colorado Restaurant Association awarded the honors at a ceremony on Oct. 15.