It’s a party, party weekend |

It’s a party, party weekend

Connie Steiert

It’s Labor Day weekend and what’s more fitting than one last blow-out party guaranteed to jazz up these final days of summer?From Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, the Vail Jazz Party will feature more than 24 hours of jazz music by nationally- and world-renowned jazz artists at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. This year, there are eight bands performing throughout the Vail Jazz Party, each of which will perform at varying times during the weekend, beginning on Aug. 29 at the Cascade’s Centennial Ballroom in an intimate, cabaret-like setting. And, jazz fans get a sampling of somepromising up and coming young jazz artists as well.&quotIt’s a really unique jazz setting,&quot says Christine B. Richards-Carlson, executive director of the Vail Jazz Foundation. The audience will not only have an opportunity to listen to great music by some of the best jazz artists in the business, but also to mingle with the musicians.The weekend promises one of the best and most uniqueblends of jazz music found anywhere. This year’s line-up features Battle of the B-3s, with Rhoda Scott, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Plas Johnson, Rodney Jones, and Ben Dixon; the Clayton Brothers Quintet, with John and Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Bill Cunliffe and Lewis Nash; and the Barry Harris Trio, with Barry Harris, Earl May and Leroy Williams. Also featured are the Heavenly Echoes Gospel Choir; Claudio Roditi; Curtis Stigers and His Trio, with Curtis Stigers, Matthews Fires, Phil Palombi and Keith Hall; and the Steve Turre Quintet, with Steve Turre, Javon Jackson, Stephen Scott, Steve Kirby and Obed Calvaire.Sessions at the Cascade Centennial Ballroom begin at: 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31 Noon on Monday, Sept. 1Then, as the weekend nears its end, each group will invite a special guest artist to come and jam with it and improvise.&quotThat’s what jazz is really about, improvisation,&quot explains Richards-Carlson. &quotA lot of these musicians travel to different locations and never have an opportunity to play with each other. This will give them the opportunity to jump up on stage and perform together.&quotThe Vail Jazz Party is actually a culmination not only to the summer, but also to the six-week Ninth Annual Vail Jazz Festival, America’s Gift To The World of Jazz, that began in July. The extended jazz festival included free jazz shows on Sundays at the Vail Farmer’s Market and the Minturn Market, which just ended last weekend.The Vail Jazz Foundation, and subsequent Vail Jazz Festival, had its origin in founder Howard Stone’s love of jazz. Nine years ago he threw a jazz party for his fellow jazz enthusiasts and it was such a hit that it was expanded and a foundation was born to oversee not only performances, but educational programs, such as the Jazz Goes to School program in all the local elementary schools.&quotIt was one weekend that snowballed into a year-round educational program with workshops and several performances throughout the year,&quot explains Richards-Carlson.The Vail Jazz Party is actually returning to its roots in some ways this weekend. The first Vail Jazz Festival Show was held at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. For the past eight years, however, the Marriott in Vail has played host. &quotThis year we are going back to where it all started,&quot Richards-Carlson says.An integral part of the Vail Jazz Festival is the Vail Jazz Workshop. Started in 1996, the Vail Jazz Workshop is held in conjunction with the annual Vail Jazz Festival to assist in the development of the next generation of jazz musicians. Some 82 participants have participated in the workshop over the years.This year, the jazz workshop began with more than 300 student applicants, recommended by high school musicteachers. From there, the Jazz Foundation weaned the group to just 12 gifted high school students from all over the United States, and one from Canada, who have distinguished themselves in their music programs. Theselected students received full scholarships to participate in the jazz festival’s 10-day immersion program in music. They learn from the jazz greats in residence at the festival, who teach and mentor the students. Many of the workshops young alumni have gone on to win awards, honors and music scholarships to leading colleges.The 10-day workshop concludes with the students giving performances themselves. As part of the Labor Day festivities, these students will be featured performers, along with their instructors, at the Vail Jazz Party, billed as the Vail Jazz All-Stars.Their attendance not only allows them the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience, but to hear and interact with some of the best jazz artists in the world. The Vail Jazz Workshop is acknowledged as one of the leading jazz education programs in the country.&quotOur goal is to perpetuate the music,&quot explains Richards-Carlson. &quotWe do that through creating young audiences, helping young musicians learn the music and also through perpetuating live performances.&quotThe Vail Jazz All-Stars will perform at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, and again at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31, in the Centennial Ballroom.This year marks a special milestone for the Vail Jazz Workshops. Obed Calvaire, who was the first alum from the original Vail Jazz Festival workshop years before, is now a professional musician himself. He has returned and will perform this weekend with the Steve Turre Quintet.Tickets for the Labor Day Vail Jazz Party are available in a variety of options. The Patron’s Pass is $250 and includes priority seating for all performances and access to all performances and functions from Friday through Monday, including the Opening Night Reception at 6 p.m. on Friday. The Full Pass is $195, and includes priority seating for all performances, Saturday through Monday, includingSunday’s Gospel Prayer Meetin’. Session Tickets may bepurchased for any performances. Evening performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $40; all other performances are $35.The Ninth Annual Vail Jazz Festival is presented by the Vail Jazz Foundation, a non-profit organization. The activity is supported by funding from the Colorado Council on the Arts, funded by the Colorado General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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