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Jazz festival returns with new bands, returning favorites


Evergreen is about 1,400 miles from New Orleans. But July 27-29, the scenic mountain community will become “Bourbon Street with Altitude” as it hosts the 17th annual Evergreen Jazz Festival.

Nationally known for its top bands, intimate venues and appealing mountain setting, the Evergreen Jazz Festival will offer more than 80 hours of live traditional jazz, including Dixieland, ragtime, blues, boogie-woogie and swing.

This year’s lineup includes two bands making their first appearances in Evergreen. The Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet is led by pianist Brian Holland and Grammy-winning drummer Danny Coots. They formed the band just last year, but its popularity is already widespread.

The Rock Island Roustabouts is a new collaboration created by drummer Hal Smith and pianist Jeff Barnhart. The Brain Cloud from New York City made its Evergreen debut last year and, with its special take on Western Swing, it was a no-brainer to invite them back.

Other returning favorites include the incomparable Carl Sonny Leyland Trio from California and Ivory&Gold, Jeff and Anne Barnhart’s piano/flute duo.

Also returning are Colorado greats Queen City Jazz Band with vocal star Wende Harston; Gypsy Swing Revue and its distinctive gypsy jazz; After Midnight with its spot-on sound of the Benny Goodman Sextet; the Felonius Smith Trio and its great old-time blues; and dance favorites Joe Smith and The Spicy Pickles Jazz Band.

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,” Production Manager Jeannie Mann said in a news release, “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.”

Other weekend highlights include three piano duos featuring Jeff Barnhart, Brian Holland and Carl Sonny Leyland, and a two-sets-only appearance by The Sweet & Hot Four.

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.

As is tradition with the Evergreen Festival, an educational clinic and performance opportunities are planned for student musicians.


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