Evergreen, Colo., is about 1400 miles from New Orleans. But July 26-28, the scenic mountain community will become “Bourbon Street with Altitude” as it hosts the 18th annual Evergreen Jazz Festival.
Nationally known for its combination of top bands, intimate venues and appealing mountain setting, the Evergreen Jazz Festival will offer over 80 hours of live traditional jazz ranging from Dixieland to ragtime to blues, boogie-woogie and swing. This year’s lineup includes three bands making their first-ever appearances in Evergreen:
From New Orleans, On The Levee Jazz Band, led by Festival favorite Hal Smith on drums, pays tribute to the great Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band. The musicians include several with strong ties to their Ory counterparts, and all are absolutely top talents.
LAPOMPE has developed a strong following in the Rocky Mountain region in recent years, delivering a unique sound that combines rustic gypsy swing with vintage blues and soulful originals.
The Acker-Vogt Jazztet, led by top reed players Lance Acker and Andrew Vogt, is a marvelous collaboration assembled just for the Festival. Front Range fans will recognize both, along with Festival veterans Dean Ross on bass and Don Grove on drums. In from Las Vegas to round-out the group is the incredibly gifted Chris Calabrese on piano.
The Holland–Coots Jazz Quintet made its Evergreen debut last year, and audience reaction made a return for 2019 virtually automatic. Back for the first time since 2012 is New England favorite the Wolverine Jazz Band. Other returning favorites include the incomparable Carl Sonny Leyland Trio from California, plus Colorado greats Queen City Jazz Band with vocal star Wende Harston, After Midnight with their spot-on sound of the Benny Goodman Sextet, the Poudre River Irregulars, and dance favorites Joe Smith and The Spicy Pickles Jazz Band, and the Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra.
In the true spirit of spontaneity that is jazz, the Festival will feature a jam session of top members of different bands, literally getting together for the first time on-stage. “We’ve done this the last several years,” says Production Manager Jeannie Mann, “and it was probably the most popular set of the whole weekend. So we’re excited to do it again and are sure the audience will love it.”
Adds Music Director Ed Danielson, “I got a big kick when one of the guys announced that not only had they never played together, most of them had never even met before! But talent clearly prevails. They were sensational!”
There are also special guest appearances on-tap for the Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars and the University of Colorado-Denver Claim Jumpers, giving patrons a look at the future of traditional jazz and some reassurance that there will indeed be a future.
Several times each day between sets, Dance Showcase segments will provide authentic demonstrations of Jazz Age dances such as the Jitterbug, Lindy Hop and Black Bottom. Complete with period costumes, the dancers add another dimension to the weekend celebration of America’s unique art form.
Dancing is encouraged in all venues. Friday night is designated as Dance Night, with bands delivering music especially for dancing. It all starts at 6:00 pm, and the Festival has extended the Lake House closing time to 11 pm Friday.
As is tradition with the Evergreen Festival, an educational clinic and performance opportunities are planned for student musicians. The day-long clinic will be held Thursday, July 25, with instruction provided by musicians appearing in the Festival.
The Festival gets underway at noon Friday, July 26, with a two-hour Educational Presentation/Concert. Past presentations have been given by such notables as ragtime great Terry Waldo, New Orleans stars John Royen and Louis Ford, James Dapogny, Wende Harston and Hank Troy, Nicki Parrott and Danny Coots, and many others. This kickoff event takes place in the Elks Lodge Ballroom and is free and open to the public.
The opening sets of the Festival are scheduled for 2:30 Friday afternoon in the acoustically marvelous Evergreen Christian Church and the popular Elks Lodge Patio. Meanwhile, the daily free dance lesson will take place in the Elks Ballroom.
Other venues include the beautiful Evergreen Lake House and Rocky Mountain High Restaurant & Bar. The five small, distinctive venues have become virtual trademarks of the event, offering audiences varied listening environments, all with an up-close-and-personal appeal. Patrons and musicians both say they enjoy the special rapport that develops during each set.
Music continues throughout the weekend until 6 pm Sunday, with three or four venues active every hour. Patrons are welcome to move among the venues as they choose, and a free shuttle makes it easy to reach those not in walking distance. Food and beverages are available at all venues, and parking is free. The complete weekend schedule is available at the festival website www.EvergreenJazz.org.
Sustaining sponsors of the Evergreen Jazz Festival are Denver’s jazz89 KUVO radio and the Canyon Courier, Evergreen’s weekly newspaper, QSC Live Sound and Jazz 93.5 FM Colorado Springs.
Key financial support is also derived from grants from the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, the Denver-area’s unique organization for support of the arts, and from Colorado Creative Industries, dedicated to the vitality of performing, visual and literary arts.
Festival tickets can be purchased through the website or by calling 303.697.5467. Discount tickets are available through June 30.
Evergreen is located 17 miles southwest of downtown Denver and is about a one-hour drive from Denver International Airport. Area maps can be found on the website.
The Evergreen Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operated by volunteers in and around the Evergreen, Colo., community. Funding is through ticket sales, grants, sponsorships, individual contributions, and fundraising events. The festival website is www.EvergreenJazz.org.