Full-steam female power at Vail Jazz Party this weekend | VailDaily.com

Full-steam female power at Vail Jazz Party this weekend

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily
Niki Haris performs at the 2014 Vail Jazz Party. Haris will join the all-female power ring for Friday’s multimedia performance and appear numerous times throughout the wall-to-wall music weekend, leading Sunday morning’s climatic Gospel Prayer Meetin’ with the Mile High Gospel Ensemble.
Kallie Winners | Special to the Daily |

Vail Jazz Party schedule

Friday, Sept. 4

2 p.m. — Screening of “The Girls in the Band,” Grand Ballroom, Vail Marriott

Evening Session, Grand Ballroom, Vail Marriott

7 p.m. — George Cables Trio: George Cables, piano; George Mraz, bass; Lewis Nash, drums

8:10 p.m. — Multi-Media Tribute to Women in Jazz: Lauren Falls, bass; Sophie Faught, tenor sax; Roberta Gambarini, vocals; Karen Hammack, piano; Niki Haris, vocals; Marion Hayden, bass; Sherrie Maricle, drums

9:40 p.m. — John Clayton, bass; Larry Fuller, piano; Howard Levy, harmonica; Russell Malone, guitar; Herlin Riley, drums

Saturday, Sept. 5

Afternoon Session, Vail Square

11:30 a.m. — Vail Jazz All-Stars

12:40 p.m. — George Cables, piano; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Dick Oatts, tenor sax; George Mraz, bass; Terell Stafford, trumpet

1:50 p.m. — Vail Jazz Alumni Quintet

3 p.m. — Gerard Gibbs, B3 organ; Sean Jones, trumpet; Russell Malone, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums; Dick Oatts, alto sax

Evening Session, Grand Ballroom, Vail Marriott

7:45 p.m. — Ray Brown Tribute Trio: George Cables, piano; John Clayton, bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums

8:55 p.m. — Roberta Gambarini and her Trio, with guest George Cables, piano

10:05 p.m. — Lewis Nash’s Multi-Media Tribute to his Drum Influences

Sunday, Sept. 6

9 .m. — Gospel Prayer Meetin’, Vail Square

Afternoon Session, Val Square

11:30 a.m. — Vail Jazz All-Stars

12:40 p.m. — Vail Jazz Party House Band

1:50 p.m. — Piano Duos: Shelly Berg, George Cables, Bill Cunliffe, Larry Fuller

3 p.m. — Shelly Berg, piano; Lauren Falls, bass; Allan Finney, drums; Wycliffe Gordon, trombone; Howard Levy, harmonica

4:10 p.m. — Gerard Gibbs, B3 organ; Russell Malone, guitar; Herlin Riley, drums; Joel Frahm, tenor sax; Sean Jones, trumpet; with guest Jumaane Smith, trumpet

Evening Session, Grand Ballroom, Vail Marriott

7 p.m. — Karen Hammack, piano; Niki Haris, vocals; Marion Haydon, bass; Sherrie Maricle, drums; with guest Joel Frahm, tenor sax

8:10 p.m. — John Clayton, bass; Larry Fuller, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Herlin Riley, drums

9:20 p.m. — Byron Stripling’s Multi-Media Tribute to the Trumpet Kings … Uncrowned

Monday, Sept. 7

Afternoon Session, Vail Square

11:30 a.m. — George Cables Trio

12:40 p.m. — Shelly Berg, piano; Joel Frahm, tenor sax; Marion Hayden, bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Sean Jones, trumpet

1:50 p.m. — Roberta Gambarini and her Trio

3 p.m. — John Clayton, bass; Dick Oatts, alto sax; Evan Sherman, drums; Jeremy Siskind, piano; Byron Stripling, trombone; with guest Sophie Faught, tenor sax

4:10 p.m. — Bill Cunliffe, piano; Sophie Faught, tenor sax; Joel Frahm, tenor sax; Gerard Gibbs, B3 organ; Wycliffe Gordon, trombone; Marion Hayden, bass; Sean Jones, trumpet; Howard Levy, harmonica; Dick Oatts, alto sax; Herlin Riley, drums; Jumaane Smith, trumpet; Terell Stafford, trumpet; Byron Stripling, trumpet

For ticket pricing, purchase and more information, visit vailjazz.org or call 888-VAIL-JAM.

Luckily, the musical world is well beyond those regrettable times when anyone would hear an amazing instrumentalist and dare say, “she plays pretty well … for a girl.”

The jazz scene, in particular, has been struck by a steady string of female standouts for decades, and the 21st annual Vail Jazz Party aims to commemorate and celebrate the genre’s leading ladies, both past and present.

‘Girls in the Band’

Kicking things off this afternoon will be a special screening of the powerful, eye-opening documentary “The Girls in the Band.” Highlighting the largely untold stories of female jazz musicians from the 1930s (such as trombone player Melba Liston, trumpeter Clora Bryant and pianist Marian McPartland) who, in spite of their incredible talent, faced a rash of sexism, racism and condescension in order to pursue their musical dreams. It is these women who paved the way for today’s female jazz stars.

“I’m definitely NOT aware of being a woman in the band most of the time,” said contemporary trumpet sensation Bria Skonberg, who performed at the Vail Jazz Festival earlier this summer and recently watched “The Girls in the Band.” “There are a lot of women who have worked really hard so I can feel that way.”

The documentary also profiles current female stars, including Sherrie Maricle, drummer and leader of the all-female group DIVA, which made its Vail debut this summer. Maricle returns to town for this weekend’s Vail Jazz Party to perform alongside several other powerhouse musicians in Friday night’s Multi-Media Tribute to Women in Jazz and in various ensembles throughout the weekend.

“When DIVA was formed and, to some degree, even today, women didn’t usually get the first call for jazz gigs, so I viewed DIVA’s creation as a great opportunity to play amazing music with great players, period,” Maricle said. “Over the last 23-plus years of leading the band and playing with dozens of others, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that there is absolutely no difference in talent, skill, passion or creativity between DIVA and any other world-class concert jazz orchestra.”

Internationally renowned vocalist Roberta Gambarini will also perform in the multimedia tribute. The Grammy award nominee, who hails from Italy, has an exuberant vocal style that has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, but which is also distinctly her own, each song and each performance rife with fresh trills and spontaneous twists. In addition to today’s girl-power performance, Gambarini and her trio will take the stage on Saturday and Monday.

Rattle the stage

Another familiar vocal talent, not to mention Vail Jazz Party fixture and favorite, Niki Haris will join the all-female power ring for today’s multimedia performance and appear numerous times throughout the wall-to-wall music weekend, leading Sunday morning’s climactic Gospel Prayer Meetin’ with the Mile High Gospel Ensemble.

“All races, all colors come together to be part of this spiritual celebration,” Haris said of the Meetin’ and of gospel itself, which many believe to be the cornerstone of jazz, if not the very foundation of the genre. “Jazz is about freedom of expression.”

Gospel is only one of Haris’ points of focus, but energetic expression is the key ingredient in everything she does. A singer, choreographer, dancer and actor, Haris has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Mick Jagger, Whitney Houston to Anita Baker and spent 18 years touring and recording with Madonna, arguably the pop star’s most talented band mate of all time. In Vail over the years, Haris has been consistently famous for rattling the stage and willing spontaneous movement of some sort out of every audience member — clapping, swaying or all-out dancing.

“I love the entire energy of the Vail Jazz Festival,” Haris said. “I always say God was having a great day when he made Vail — or should I say she? The point is, this is the world we all want to see — everyone celebrating in their own way to whatever God they serve. We’re all here together.”

Karen Hammack is another shining star at which to marvel throughout the Vail Jazz Party. The pianist and singer-songwriter incorporates elements of jazz, gospel, funk, soul and rock into her unique sound and is a master recording artist with a long list of original numbers that have been singled out for their heart-gripping sincerity. Hailing from California, Hammack has worked with Jackson Brown, Michael McDonald, Bill Frisell and Perla Batalla, among many other greats.

Bassist Marion Hayden is a key component to the Tribute to Women in Jazz and will be a vibrant presence throughout the Vail Jazz Party. From Detroit, Hayden has taught at the University of Michigan, is a founding member of the all-female group Venus, has collaborated with renowned violinist Regina Carter and has performed or recorded with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Fortune.

Rising stars

Also blazing a trail as the next generation of jazz greats are Vail Jazz Workshop alumnae Sophie Faught and Lauren Falls. Coming from a small town in British Columbia with a master’s degree in jazz performance from Manhattan School of Music, Falls composes original music for her own quintet and has studied with iconic bassists such as John Clayton, James Moody and David Baker. A tenor saxophonist from Indiana, Faught currently leads her own band and is a notable composer. She’s shared the stage with stars such as Terrell Stafford, The Four Tops and The Temptations.

The combined talent of all of these artists is enough to make the mountains quake. This evening’s session ticket includes not only the Women in Jazz set, but also performances by famed pianist George Cables, renowned harmonica player Howard Levy and the surprise-filled Late Night Jam Session.

Shauna Farnell is a freelance writer contracted by the Vail Jazz Foundation.


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Big snow expected to dump on Vail Valley through the weekend

December 12, 2019

Snow usually comes and goes in this part of the state. A forecasted storm is expected to stick around for a while. Forecasters are calling for snow to persist throughout the weekend in the high country, with a prospect of a couple of feet of powder by the time the storm starts to diminish on Monday.



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