Monday, April 23, 2007

Denver Jazz Field Report

New Yorkers listen up: there are other cities out there to find live jazz, including Denver. I was there on a family visit and found time to check out the local club scene over the weekend.

Dazzle is the marquee jazz club in the Mile High City, often bringing established names, proudly billed as “from New York.” They also showcase local talent, like reedman Fred Hess and bassist Kenny Walker. Recently remodeled, Dazzle still has its autographed wall of musicians who have played there, including the salutation: “Bob Dorough was here and dazzled them.”

On Friday, the New York import was Ari Hoenig’s Punk Bop Trio, featuring Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman and bassist Johannes Weidenmuller. They live up to their New York billing, playing together seamlessly. While some of the standards sounded a little rushed, they locked in beautifully on Hoenig’s originals. Drummer Hoenig is an intriguing composer and plays his kit with passion and style, while not overwhelming his trio with roaring thunder.

The Chapultepec is a long venerated informal club, which has opened a second franchise somewhere on the North side of town. Chapultepec Too (known colloquially as the ‘Pec Too) is basically a tavern with a small bandstand that features well-established local talent (most likely for the tip jar proceeds). They attract an appreciative club-like audience (only the employees seemed to be talking during the set), but they don’t serve food or have a website, yet.

Sat. night looks to be the regular night of Pat Bianchi’s group, performing jazz standards on the B-3. Bianchi has some national exposure from his Jazzed Media CD, and he has a tasteful touch on the organ. He was backed up by the fine trumpeter Greg Gisbert who recorded for Criss Cross in the 1990’s, and a drummer (whose name I did not catch). Bianchi is working on a Larry Young tribute project with Ralph Peterson, which should definitely be worth checking out.

If in Denver, check out the club scene. They do have some legitimate local talent, often leading their own groups, or backing up visiting New Yorkers.