High Altitude Society column: Vail Jazz Gala celebrates 100 years of Frank Sinatra | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society column: Vail Jazz Gala celebrates 100 years of Frank Sinatra

Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society

Jazz. Just one word brings up a variety of images in people's minds.

Jazz is one of the few musical genres with American origins; it grew out of African-Americans' musical traditions at the beginning of the 20th century. Jazz is generally considered a major contribution of the United States to the world of music.

Jazz also takes many forms, from traditional jazz, heavy with improvisation, smooth jazz, Cuban jazz, New Orleans jazz, Brazilian jazz and more. With so many different variations of one form, there is, most certainly, a jazz for every music lover.

On July 10, the Vail Jazz Foundation held its annual gala at The Sebastian in Vail Village. The gusts in the packed ballroom weren't just there to support the Jazz Festival and its many programs, but to also experience the amazing talents of John Boutte and his band.

Not only did Boutte, the "Voice of New Orleans," perform with his velvety, soulful voice, but he was joined on stage by three alumni who passed through the Vail Jazz Workshop over the years. Jeffery Miller, who attended in 2013, is on a full scholarship at Julliard School, currently going into his senior year.

Erica von Kleist, who plays sax, clarinet, flute, and piccolo, has begun to make her mark in the New York jazz scene as one of the most in- demand young musicians in the city, performing and recording with Wynton Marsalis, Chris Potter, Sean Jones, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, DIVA and the Grammy Award-winning Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. She's also been commissioned to write for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Juilliard School and the Afro- Latin Jazz Orchestra. Trumpet Player Curtis Taylor has a master's degree in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University and performed on Grammy Award winning record "Liquid Spirit" with singer Gregory Porter.

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'Synonymous with a good time'

The stage was set with a sultry New Orleans feel. Street lamps, ferns and hurricane lamps created a feel for Bourbon Street. Auction packages included a couple of New Orleans treats; from a special holiday in NOLO with Ivy and Dr. Fred Kushner to a backyard barbecue bash with chef Riley Romanin, of Revolution, for 75 people. Other items included a private dinner at the house of Sandi Brown with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon as honored guest, with Steve Pope cooking up the meal, a dinner at the home of Cathy and Howard Stone with crooner Curtis Stiegers, a season family ski locker and underground parking at the fabulous new Lion Residences in Lionshead Village, and a trip to the Tucson Jazz Festival in January.

"The theme of New Orleans is synonymous with a good time," said founder Howard Stone. "We've reached a point where people expect to be entertained, and they were."

The Vail Jazz Foundation is in its 22nd year under the guidance of the colorful Howard Stone. Stone received the most prestigious award in jazz education this year from DownBeat Magazine: The Jazz Education Achievement Award. In 1998, Stone and Tony "G" Gulizia created the Vail Goes to School program, which has brought jazz education to every fourth- and fifth-grader in Eagle County. On Sundays, the Jammin' Jazz Kids is a hands-on experience for kids 4 to 12 at the Vail Market. This year, along with the Colorado High School Band Showcase, four top high school jazz bands are also performing on Sunday afternoons.

The Vail Jazz Fest has extensive shows in Vail every week. Wednesday nights at the Sonnenalp and Thursdays at Vail Square in Arrabelle, and free concerts at The Riverwalk at Edwards on Friday evenings. On Sundays, there's Jazz at the Market on Sundays in front of Solaris, get in on a jam session at The Remedy at the Four Seasons. And, of course, the signature event over Labor Day weekend, the Vail Jazz Party. See everything that's happening on its website at http://www.vailjazz.org.