Vail Jazz Festival returns in full bloom |

Vail Jazz Festival returns in full bloom

Grace Kelly will be among the several Vail Jazz Workshop alumni returning as featured headliners.
John Huet/Courtesy photo

The 29th Annual Vail Jazz Festival is returning this summer from July 9 — Sept. 4 and tickets for all performances are now on sale.

The festival will include a rousing kickoff party, seven ticketed Thursday evening headliner performances under the Jazz Tent, seven free club-style shows at Howard’s Hangout in the Tavern, four free Sunday afternoon community concerts on the Solaris Plaza, and the ever-popular grand finale of the festival, the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day weekend.

“As our organization blossoms and grows, we’re pleased to present the very best in jazz again this summer,” said Amanda Blevins, Vail Jazz executive director. “We have a diverse lineup that showcases the many subgenres of jazz, and three of our headlining musicians are Vail Jazz Workshop alumni.”

“We are so pleased to bring three of our esteemed Workshop alumni back to Vail this summer as headlining musicians,” said John Clayton, Director of Education and Vail Jazz Interim Artistic Director. “The Vail Jazz Workshop has cultivated young jazz musicians for the past 28 years, many of whom now have thriving careers.”

The new Regional Artistic Director Drew Zaremba, who is stepping into the large shoes left by founder Howard Stone, will become a familiar face over the course of the festival. Zaremba is a talented musician, writer, arranger, composer and educator who is eager to bring the best music to Vail. In addition to performing at both the Jazz Tent and Solaris Plaza, Zaremba will front the shows at Howard’s Hangout after the Thursday headliner concerts. “We’ll be creating a lowkey, relaxed jazz experience, a ‘nightcap’ to cap off an evening of jazz,” says Zaremba.

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The Vail Jazz Festival Kickoff Party

The Kickoff Party featuring Wycliffe Gordon will begin the festival in a truly celebratory style with a nine-piece band performing an upbeat funk show, accompanied by hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and dancing. The Kickoff Party will be at the Donovan Pavilion on Tuesday, July 11, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $150 and go on sale March 29 at 10 a.m.

Tony DeSare will kick off the Jazz Tent in Lionshead Village headliner series on July 13.
Bill Westmoreland/Courtesy photo

Vail Jazz at Vail Square Headliner Series

The Jazz Tent in Lionshead Village is the site for Thursday evening headliner performances presented by Alpine Bank and Discover Vail. Tickets go on sale March 29 at 10 a.m. at The ticket prices are structured to be accessible to a broad range of audiences, with General Admission starting at just $35. Several Vail Jazz Workshop alumni return as featured headliners, including Sullivan Fortner, Lakecia Benjamin and Grace Kelly. Full lineup includes:

July 13: Tony DeSare with the Zaremba Jazz Fellowship

July 20: The String Queens

July 27: Sullivan Fortner Trio

Aug 3: Kevin Gullage & the Blues Groovers

Aug 10: Lakecia Benjamin & Phoenix

Aug 17: The Brianna Thomas Band

Aug 24: Grace Kelly Quartet

Performance details and tickets can be found at

Howard’s Hangout at the Tavern

New to the Festival this year will be a free club-style series every Thursday immediately following the headliner performances. “Howard’s Hangout” will be tucked inside the Tavern at the Arrabelle Hotel and will be hosted by Drew Zaremba and his quartet, featuring vocalist Marion Powers. From 8-10 p.m., patrons will enjoy a cozy lounge environment where they can enjoy dinner or a nightcap in addition to the music.

Sundays at Solaris

Solaris Plaza in Vail Village will be the venue for four free Sunday performances from 3-5 p.m., July 9 – 30. The concert series will feature renowned regional performers presenting a variety of jazz genres for the whole family. The lineup includes:

July 9: Tatiana Mayfield & the Drew Zaremba Sextet

July 16: Gabriel Santiago presents “The Sounds of Brazil”

July 23: Hot House West with swing dancing lesson from Swingin’ Denver

July 30: Tony Monaco Presents a Tribute to Howard Stone

Vail Jazz Party Labor Day Weekend

The event that started it all — the Vail Jazz Party, over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept 4., will bring together some of the biggest names in jazz in a constellation of group performances. This year’s Vail Jazz Party will feature some new and some returning musicians, to perform a mix of never-before-seen ensembles, and classic favorites like Niki Haris’ Gospel Prayer Meetin’ and the Alumni Sextet. All-Access Patron Passes go on sale March 29 include entry into all sessions of music. Regular price passes are $495, however early bird pricing of $395 ($100 off) is in effect through May 3. Tickets to individual sessions of music ($45-$75) will become available later this spring based on availability. Full details and lineup will be released this spring.

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