Telluride Inside… and Out, Denver: All that (Five Points) Jazz

Telluride Inside… and Out, Denver: All that (Five Points) Jazz

by Tracy Shaffer

Denver starts to rock, the season of new beginnings. The town is warming up for the summer nights to do what Denverites do best— hit the streets! Not long after the ski slopes close, concert venues open: for the next five months, music will waft through our city’s all too thin air. Picnics in the park, treks up to Red Rocks: I can almost hear the clickety-clack of Prada sandals as the charge of the Botox Brigade hits the patio at Elway’s.  Kicking it off this Saturday is the 7th annual Five Points Jazz Festival at 27th & Welton Street.

Long before Denver welcomed the likes of Matt Holliday or the Birdman, Duke Ellington, Charlie “Bird” Parker and Billie Holiday roamed the streets of Five Points, frequenting the jazz clubs and speakeasies that tarted up the streets. Sitting down for coffee with Denver Office of Cultural Affairs Public Programming Coordinator, Gina Rubano, the talk was all that jazz and how the festival pays tribute not only to the rich cultural heritage of the Five Points neighborhood, but to modern day jazz icons as well.

This year Five Points Jazz Festival honors the significant and lasting contributions of Latin jazz musician, Ramon “Ray” Pacheco, the legendary dancer/choreographer/arts advocate, Cleo Parker Robinson, and KIMN disc jockey Leroy Smith. In 1948, on his nightly radio show “Rockin’ with Leroy Smith,” the man coined the tagline “Cool, Crazy and Hot” as he spun is be-bop vinyl.
“Denverites really turn out for this festival, whether they’re jazz fans or  just want to be part of the festivities.” Rubano explained. “Jazz can be intimidating if you don’t know a lot about it, so we look to provide interesting ways to engage and educate those who are unfamiliar. This year professor and poet Jake Adam York will speak at the Blair Caldwell Library in a series called "Notes, Chords, and Changes: Musicians and Traditions in Jazz."  Exploring the work of four trios of musicians, York will track how the process of recognition, repetition, and innovation connect deep musical traditions to the contemporary scene.”

Four stages are to be set up around Five Points to showcase performances by a wide variety of Denver’s favorite jazz musicians. The Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce plans to host a Festival Marketplace with food, drink, arts, and exhibitors. Bring at least a point and shoot, if only to record people-watching. But you may also want to enter a snap in the Five Points Jazz Festival Photo Contest. The music’s free, the Red Line’s free –  and I’ll bet your spirit will be too.

“It’s a celebration of the city by the city, and of the contributions made by our African American community past and present.” said Rubano.

“So it’ll be fun?” I ask.

“Oh, it will be ‘Cool, Crazy and Hot’”.

For more, go to the Denver concerts webpage.

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