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Colorado jazz festivals reschedule and regroup in response to coronavirus outbreak

A shot from a past Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival. (Steve Mundinger, Denver Post file)

The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience has served as the unofficial opener for outdoor mountain jazz celebrations in Colorado for years. This year, the event’s organizers are scrapping the June party until 2021.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made to postpone the multi-artist gathering until June 2021. As of now, all of the performers scheduled to appear this year have already committed to around the same time next year. The lineup will include Take 6, Dee Dee Bridgewater and David Sanborn. In the meantime, the jury is still out on other planned Jazz Aspen Snowmass shows from July 9th to August 16th. Announcements will appear on the organization’s website, jazzaspensnowmass.org, and information about ticketing and more can be found there as well.

Along the lines of postponements and cancellations, this year’s Estes Park Jazz Fest has also been moved to June of 2021, with the promise of headliner Delfeayo Marsalis in the town’s Performance Park. The impressively traditional-minded Evergreen Jazz Festival has been canceled but promises to return in July of next year.

Meanwhile, the annual Winter Park Jazz Festival appears to be moving forward with a number of smooth jazz stars July 18-19, and the always-enjoyable Telluride Jazz Festival will take place August 7-9, with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Amadou & Miriam, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Poncho Sanchez, Allison Miller, The Beach Boys (!) and more. In this Coronavirus world anything can change, however, so make sure you check with the festival websites, playwinterpark.com and telluridejazz.org closer to the dates.

Closer to Denver, there’s no question that the current scenario is hitting local jazz artists hard financially. There aren’t enough paying gigs to go around in the best of times, particularly in a community that’s so rich in talent. Since there currently aren’t performances occurring in their physical space, Dazzle has put together an “online stage” featuring solo performances from numerous Colorado artists sequestered at home. You can click on songs as performed by Brad Goode, MaryLynn Gillaspie, Annie Booth, Wil Aston and more, then, if you care to, make a donation to those artists. Your action now could help ensure your enjoyment of their art in person soon. Visit the online stage at dazzledenver.com.

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Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the wave of masters that have passed on in recent weeks, due to COVID-19 and other circumstances. March and April have been particularly cruel, as hugely influential figures like pianists McCoy Tyner and Ellis Marsalis, saxophonists Lee Konitz and Manu Dibango, trumpeter Wallace Roney, guitarist John “Bucky” Pizzarelli, and producer Hal Willner have departed. Their gifts to the world were innumerable, and much of their tragedy lies in the notion that they still had so very much more to give. Konitz, for example, was 92 and still generating inspired sounds. There are plenty of sources to get lost in from this list. I went back to Konitz’ stunning 1961 trio date, “Motion” and was overwhelmed by how many ideas he unspooled and how beautifully he executed it all. You could spend weeks unpacking Tyners’ legacy, beginning with his tenure in the John Coltrane Quartet, but also decades of music under his own name. I find great beauty in his ’60s and ’70s recordings for the Blue Note and Milestone labels, where he flourished on albums like “Trident” (a personal favorite, and I admire how he energetically appropriated the celeste and harpsichord) “Song For My Lady, ” and Extensions.” They’re all available on streaming services, and they’ll elevate your spirits.

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