Vail Jazz: The musical magic of Tony G
Special to the Daily
Vail Jazz events
Jammin’ Jazz Kids
Jammin’ Jazz Kids kicks off its 2017 season at 11 a.m. this Sunday, July 2, at the Jazz Tent at Solaris in Vail. The session lasts about 45 minutes and is free to all children between the ages of 4 and 12 years. Children should be registered at 10:45 a.m. Jammin’ Jazz Kids takes place every Sunday in July.
Vail Jazz at The Remedy
Tony Gulizia and Brian Loftus (BLT) are joined by a rotating cast of visiting musicians for Vail Jazz at The Remedy, which kicks off at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, at The Remedy in the Four Seasons Resort, Vail. The performances are free and take place every Sunday evening through Aug. 27.
Also, keep an eye out for Tony G and Loftus on the Vail Jazz Fourth of July parade float on Tuesday, July 4.
It’s uncanny the way Tony Gulizia can hold a group of 6-year-olds in rapt attention. Or persuade an entire auditorium of fifth-graders to play the 12-bar blues. Not to mention get every adult in the bar to tap their foot while simultaneously socializing and sipping cocktails.
The Vail Valley’s favorite piano man has etched his mark with adult audiences in various bars and restaurants throughout the valley during the last three decades, most recently with drummer Brian Loftus (the duo goes by BLT) at Vail Jazz at The Remedy, which kicks off its 2017 season at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Four Seasons Resort at Vail.
You’ve probably also heard Gulizia hosting Jazz at its Peak on The Zephyr. Gulizia has notched 14 years on the radio show, wrapping up each program with his personal credo, “keep it cool.”
Another anniversary Gulizia is celebrating these days is his 20th year heading up Vail Jazz educational programs. In total, he’s imparted musical know-how of some form or other to roughly 20,000 youngsters in the Vail Valley alone.
“Can you believe that? In Eagle County, Colorado, we’ve seen this many kids. There are no programs like this even in L.A. or New York,” Gulizia said. “Over the years, I’ll talk to kids who I had 10 years ago who’ll say, ‘Mr. Gulizia, I’m going to North Texas State’ — or one of the other great music schools in the country — ‘and you turned me onto jazz when I was 10 years old.’ This is why I do this kind of thing.”
Vail Jazz founder Howard Stone had a brainchild in 1998 to incorporate an educational program into his organization in which local children could learn the history and nuances of jazz. Gulizia took the reins and Vail Jazz Goes to School took off at a gallop.
History of Jazz
Vail Jazz Goes to School is a four-part education series in which Gulizia and his team of musical educators (including his brother, Joey Gulizia on drums, Andy Hall on bass, Roger Neumann on woodwinds saxophone, flute and clarinet and Mike Gurciullo on trumpet) visit every elementary school in the valley, focusing instruction on fourth- and fifth-grade classes.
The first program takes students through the history of jazz music, from African rhythms through the hardships of American slavery and New Orleans blues to the present, allowing students the opportunity to play ancient African instruments themselves, learning the art of syncopation.
The second part of the series teaches students specifics about rhythm section instruments — the piano, bass and drums. Students then learn the 12 bar blues progression and how each instrument contributes to harmony and melody, also learning improvisation during the third session. In the final session, they learn specific musical styles such as swing, ragtime and be-bop, testing out the sounds first-hand on provided instruments.
Three years ago, Vail Jazz added a new educational program to the mix, Jammin’ Jazz Kids. These 45-minute sessions are conducted every summer at the Jazz Tent during the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show, targeting 4- to 12-year-olds. The sessions are free and open to all children within this age range. Here, Gulizia and Loftus demonstrate various rhythms on their own instruments and within a matter of minutes, they have children playing along on xylophones, maracas, conga drums and chopsticks.
“One of my philosophies on teaching is to make it enjoyable as well as educational,” Gulizia said. “I like to have fun with the kids. What we have found is that it’s usually as educational for the parents as it is for the kids.”