Vail Jazz Philosophy
To perpetuate jazz music through the presentation of jazz performances and educational programs.
To expand the audience for jazz and the performance opportunities for jazz
musicians by presenting entertaining and educational live and virtual jazz performances, while providing jazz education to youth and assisting in the development of aspiring jazz musicians.
We cherish the bonds of community between musicians, Workshop alumni, staff, and patrons. We take pride in bringing the rich, cultural heritage of jazz to the forefront of the community.
Vail jazz timeline
Vj founded & 1st vj party
1st vj workshop
Creation of vj festival
Vj goes to school introduced
Vj @ the market introduced
Vj @ Vail Square introduced
Vj winter series introduced
Vj 20th anniversary
Vj 25th anniversary
Vj Workshop 25th anniversary
Vail Jazz Workshop
Each year, a dozen of North America’s most dedicated, gifted and promising young jazz musicians are chosen from a broad field of talented applicants, receiving scholarships to participate in the 10-day Vail Jazz Workshop in Vail, Colorado.
Vail Jazz Goes to School
Vail Jazz Goes to School takes the basics of jazz education to 4th and 5th graders in Eagle County. VJ is exposing a whole new group of youngsters to the origins and history of jazz as well as the elements of modern jazz bands.
HOW VAIL JAZZ STARTED
Howard Stone and his wife Cathy did not set out with the intent of founding a full-blown Vail Jazz Festival. Avid skiers, the Stones – like so many Vail visitors – had originally “come for the snow but stayed for the summer,” often attending Dick Gibson’s Labor Day Jazz Party, which took place throughout Colorado for 20 years, before Gibson retired in ’93.
The prospect of summers without jazz didn’t sit well with Howard, a lifelong jazz lover, visionary, and go-getter. As he recalled, “One snowy night in ‘94, I was sitting around with like-minded friends. I drank way too much wine and the next thing you know I had made the commitment to revive the Jazz Party the following Labor Day weekend, and to do it in Vail.” The commitment was intended to be a one-off event, with no plan for an encore the following year. “It’s funny how life works out,” Howard was known to muse.
The first Vail Jazz Party (VJP) was held at the Westin Hotel (now the Grand Hyatt) in the Cascades neighborhood. Twenty-seven great jazz musicians performed that weekend including John and Jeff Clayton, who eventually join forces with Howard to establish the Vail Jazz Workshop. Other notable year-one performers were Tommy Flanagan, Slide Hampton, Jack McDuff, James Moody, Joe Wilder and Phil Woods, to name a few.
The first Vail Jazz Party was a success and Howard’s imagination began to soar. It wasn’t long before Stone created the Vail Jazz Foundation, an organization dedicated to the perpetuation of jazz music through the presentation of jazz performances and educational programs. Cathy Stone reflects, “We started the Festival on a shoestring budget. It was the local volunteers and the relationships that they made that enabled the festival to be successful in its early years.” Volunteers continue to be integral to the work of Vail Jazz.
For nearly three decades, Vail Jazz has flourished, evolving into an nine-week summer Festival, with headliner performances, free community concerts, and a jazz Workshop for promising high school musicians. Year-long education programs, integral to the Vail Jazz mission, now include a county-wide primary school music program called Vail Jazz Goes to School, Jammin’ Jazz Kids for tots, and the Colorado Student Showcase that provides young musicians the opportunity to perform for large and enthusiastic Vail audiences. Additionally, Vail Jazz has collaborated over the years with area performance and educational programs, including Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Vail Dance, The Vail Symposium, and the Vail Valley Foundation.
Howard Stone passed away in the summer of 2022; he is sorely missed. His legacy is being preserved and his vision sustained by the Vail Jazz staff, led by Amanda Blevins, the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and the generous supporters committed to seeing Vail Jazz thrive.