5 jazz festivals to hit this summer in Colorado’s high country

It’s just about time to gas up (or charge your EV) and head to the Colorado mountains for this year’s round of jazz celebrations. It’s exciting to see so many of the festivals that are back in full force this summer, and there’s something to appeal to just about everyone, at altitude.


The JAS June Experience takes place in venues across Aspen June 22-25. Headliners include New Orleans’ Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph; Greyboy Allstars with saxophonist Karl Denson; vocalist Veronica Swift; pianist-singer Eliane Elias; Rebirth Brass Band and more. (It’s a deep list this time around.) Tickets are available for single events up to weekend passes, and can be purchased through jazzaspensnowmass.org.

Winter Park

This is impressive: The Winter Park Jazz Festival celebrates 40 years July 15-16. That’s quite a landmark in any facet of the music business. This year’s lineup includes smooth crowd-pleasers Jeff Lorber, Everett Harp, The Dave Koz Summer Horns with Candy Dulfer, Eric Darius and Maysa. The festival takes place at the Rendezvous Event Center. Ticket information can be found at playwinterpark.com/jazzfest.


The Evergreen Jazz Festival, July 28-30, is a life-affirming affair, particularly for aficionados of traditional jazz. Evergreen opens the doors of intimate venues like the Elks Ballroom and Patio and Evergreen Christian Church to stage performances from heritage acts like James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band and the Queen City Jazz Band. I’ve always respected what a labor of love this gathering has come to be, and the deep respect its organizers have for the music. Learn more at evergreenjazz.org.


The Telluride Jazz Festival continues to be an excellent destination event. This year’s performances, scheduled for Aug. 11-13, include acclaimed vocalist Gregory Porter, up-and-coming trumpeter Keyon Harrold, exuberant veterans Tower of Power and singer Lady Wray. There’s nothing like the incredible beauty of Telluride in the summer, and you can find out about tickets, camping and lodging at evergreenjazz.org.


The grand finale of Colorado summer jazz festivals is the Vail Jazz Party. For the 29th annual gathering, Aug. 31-Sept. 4, a typically excellent assemblage of artists is scheduled to appear. Clarinetist Ken Peplowski; organist Akiko Tsuruga; pianist Renee Rosnes (whose illuminating new album as a member of the group Artemis, “In Real Time,” was just released); drummer Jeff Hamilton; and vocalist (and former Denverite) Rene Marie, among others, will take to the stage in the Jazz Tent at Vail Square. Everything you need to know about this event is at vailjazz.org.

And more performances

Keyboardist Adam Bodine holds an album release party for his newest, “Offscreen Pursuits,” at Dazzle on May 7. … Recent Grammy nominee Remy Le Boeuf and his Assemble of Shadows Jazz Orchestra appear on the Dazzle stage on May 29. … The brilliant harpist (that’s right, harpist, like Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane) Brandee Younger will play Dazzle on June 4. … Saxophonist Najee performs at the Soiled Dove Underground on May 12. …Celebrated vocalist Cyrille Aimee will appear at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on May 19. … At Denver’s Nocturne every Friday in May: the Gabriel Mervine Quintet plays Lee Morgan.

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