“Some cats love it, man. Most simply ain’t digging’ it no matter what angle they’s swingin’ at. Layin’ down ten, Jack, blow’n a riff, ya can’t hate Jazz ’cause there ain’t no such animal. (“Jazz: A Multimedia History,” Compton’s New Media)

There is such an animal, but jazz is indeed a labyrinth of styles, sounds, rhythms and eras summed up in a one-syllable word. Different things to different people. Musical quicksilver.

“Jazz is only what you are,” said legendary trumpet player Louis Armstrong.

Jazz was around before the Louisiana Territory became part of America. It was what black musicians played in the streets of Storyville in New Orleans. Legend goes that after a sailor got murdered in Storyville jazz was relegated to the brothels. The word “jass,” slang for making love, then became associated with the kind of music played in brothels to accompany such activities.

Truth is, vocalese great Jon Hendricks once whispered in my ear, “jazz has its roots in African American church music. Just substitute ‘Oh baby’ for “Oh God.'”

French author Jean Cocteau once declared the musical genre “over.”

Over? Really? Nowadays there are jazz festivals across the country and around the world, about 400 in all, in places such as Montreux, Monterey and Newport. In the southern Rockies alone, every town of any renown as a resort holds such an event, including Aspen, Vail, Flagstaff – and Telluride.

The 36th annual Telluride Jazz Celebration takes place Friday, August 3 – Sunday, August 5. The event has earned international laurels for featuring the best in classic, mainstream, blues, Brazilian, African and Latin jazz sounds. Performances are staged outdoors in the daytime and in intimate clubs and historic concert halls at night. Telluride Jazz is in fact, a “Celebration” of the art, soul, history, and future of jazz. Here the altitude may push the performers a bit, but the scenery obviously inspires.

Friday’s lineup features the future of jazz with Soulive, Marco Benevento Trio, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Crescent Super Band and Jababa.

As the sun sets, attendees get to enjoy a complimentary Craft Distillery Spirit tasting with Whiskey, Rum, Tequila and Vodka crafted by Colorado distilleries from Breckenridge, Palisade, Ridgway and more.

Saturday’s lineup includes two musicians widely regarded as the best in the world on their respective instruments: Victor Wooten (Bass) and Guest of Honor Roy Hargrove (Trumpet). The day’s lineup also boasts a stellar supporting cast including “the world’s finest vocalist” Roberta Gambarini, Denver’s Convergence, Latin band extraordinaire Nosotros, Downbeat award winners UNC Jazz Lab Band I and the 18th installment of the Telluride Student All-star Jazz Ensemble – a unique collaboration of the most talented teen musicians in the country.

The annual wine tasting in Town Park is held Saturday afternoon. The event is complimentary to all three- day and Saturday pass holders and features a two-hour tasting with over 20 varietals, artisan cheeses, fresh fruit and a souvenir wine tasting glass.

Sunday, August 5, is New Orleans Day. Festivities include a full day of world-class music starting with a parade with brass bands, floats and costumes on Telluride’s iconic Main Street.

The lineup for Telluride’s New Orleans Tribute showcases some of the Big Easy’s best: The Funky METERS, Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew, The Soul Rebels and Astral Project.

Attendees can also delight in the tastes of classic New Orleans style food and drink: Po’boys, Gumbo and Hurricanes.

Add it all up and the day’s activities capture the spirit of Tremé in the Rocky Mountains.

The man behind it all and the driving force of the Telluride Jazz Celebration for the past 22 years and connoting is impresario Paul Machado.

Click the “play” button to learn more about what’s in store at this year’s event by listening to my chat with Paul.

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