The 2013 Thursday night lineup brings stars from every corner of the jazz genre and beyond! The Vail Jazz Festival has planted itself firmly on the map for jazz connoisseurs all over the world, but in recent years with its mix of Cuban, Latin, rock, blues, swing and soul, it has seriously pushed the limits of the genre and has thus attracted a slew of enthusiastic new fans.
Celebrating its 19th year, this summer is sure to recruit a whole lot more. The Festival brings local jazz heroes to the Vail Farmers Market and Kelly Liken restaurant every weekend, it partners with Bravo! Vail for intimate, one-of-a-kind jam sessions with orchestra artists at Jazz After events and culminates in an extravaganza of A-list musicians from around the globe at the Labor Day Weekend Jazz party. But the festival stops in Lionshead from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday with Jazz @ Vail Square in an open-air tent.
July 4: Curtis Stigers and SaRon Crenshaw pay tribute to The Red, White & The Blues. Kicking off the summer’s star-studded lineup with a star-spangled onslaught of talent with renowned saxophonist/vocalist Curtis Stigers and New York-based guitarist SaRon Crenshaw paying tribute to all that’s red hot and bluesy. Have you heard the theme song to Sons of Anarchy? That’s Stigers. He headlines the Pops with Bravo! Vail last year with 3,000 people listening in rapt wonder.
July 11: Wil Campa y Su Gran Union. Get your dancing shoes on for a veritable circus of steel-drum infused energy. Great indeed, the Cuban ensemble is comprised of 12 musicians who typically break out in collaborative stepping and instrument swinging. Making their Vail debut last year, they are back by popular demand.
July 18: Ann Hampton Callaway. Having performed on Broadway, sung with Wynton Marsalis and the Boston Pops and wowed the valley with her passionate, spontaneous delivery last winter when she landed at the Vilar Center paying tribute to Ella Fitzgerald Callaway returns to highlight the nation’s most revered stage and screen classics in her Great American Songbook-focused performance.
July 25: Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo. Although Frank Vignola may be a jazz guitarist, he has been influenced by rock icons such as Eddie Van Halen and Frank Zappa, and has played sidekick to the likes of Madonna and Ringo Starr. Five years ago, he teamed up with fellow New York guitarist Vinny Raniolo and the duo make their strings smoke as they match melodies on stage.
Aug. 1: John Pizzarelli Quartet. You could say that John Pizzarelli comes from a musical family. His father Bucky performed for two presidents (Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) and was in the band for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. John has played guitar with James Taylor and Paul McCartney. Along with his brother Martin on stand-up bass, John will be joined by his wife, fellow guitarist Jessica Molaskey, with whom he has a radio show in New York City. Pianist Larry Fuller and drummer Tony Tedesco round out the ensemble. Expect surprising, unique twists on jazz classics.
Aug. 8: Tommy Igoe Sextet. The spotlight turns onto the drum kit for this show, in which Tommy Igoe (son of legend Sonny Igoe) hammers out numbers that are guaranteed not to be your grandpa’s jazz. Having written the drumline for Broadway’s The Lion King, Igoe takes after everyone from his father to The Beatles. He started The Birdland Big Band, which is famous for regularly selling out Manhattan’s Birdland Jazz Club. He is joined by five more virtuoso musicians.
Aug. 15: Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band. Also a percussionist, Poncho Sanchez specializes in the congo and can also belt out his fair share of salsa. He and his band have won Grammys for best Latin Jazz. Bringing an onslaught of horns, piano, percussion and a lot of Latin soul, Sanchez should ignite a dance party if not an actual flame or two.
Aug. 22 Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Some people view jazz as a chilled out brand of music best suited for closed eye listening and calm finger snapping, but Lavay Smith takes that stereotype and launches it right out of its armchair. Oh, and did someone say dance party? With vocal stylings reminiscent of Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, Lavay brings not just her Skillet Lickers to Vail but also some serious swing dancing.
Aug. 29: Clayton Brothers Sextet and The Vail Jazz All-Stars. Mainstays and resident heroes of the Vail Jazz Festival, saxophonist Jeff Clayton and bassist John Clayton compose the most dynamic delivery of original jazz this side of the Rocky Mountains with fellow famed jazz stars Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Bill Cunliffe on piano, Wycliffe Gordon on Trombone and Lewis Nash on drums. The energy leaps yet an extra octave with the Vail Jazz All Stars – a selection of the most talented young jazz musicians in North America whom the Sextet has mentored through the intensive Vail Jazz Workshop.
It all leads up to this, the climax. The Festival climax comes to a head Labor Day weekend with a whole separate line up of superstars at the Vail Jazz Party. For more information on the party, visit www.vailjazz.org.