By Bret Saunders, Special to The Denver Post
Options at Dazzle
Bennie Maupin has to be one of the unsung heroes of jazz history.
His daring bass clarinet and saxophone solos enhanced numerous recording sessions that have resulted in some indisputably great albums: Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and “On The Corner”; Herbie Hancock’s “Sextant” and “Head Hunters”; and Lee Morgan’s immortal “Live At The Lighthouse.” If there’s an award out there for Jazz Fusion Pioneer MVP, Maupin should receive one immediately.
In terms of titles under his own name, Maupin’s discography is further under the radar but no less striking. His albums — from the meditative “Jewel In The Lotus” to the funk-fusion statement “Moonscapes” — feature his singular, beguiling solos. Many should be regarded as collectible underground classics.
Maupin, who turned 79 in August, is still crafting intense, liberating music. His new trio, named Options, features veterans Nasheet Waits on drums and bassist Eric Revis. There’s no publicly available recording of this latest venture, but the collective resume of this trio promises some of the most adventurous music to be played on the stage of Denver’s Dazzle at Baur’s this year. The trio appears there at 6:30 and 9 p.m. on Sept. 10. Tickets are $20 and can be found through dazzledenver.com.
Denver Vintage Jazz Festival
Those seeking something more traditional can imbibe in the Denver Vintage Jazz Festival Sept. 13-15. Held at the Studio Loft at Ellie Caulkins Opera House, this “one-of-a-kind vintage festival focuses primarily on vintage jazz and blues” from the 1930s and ’40s. Guitarist Jonathan Stout will lead a few ensembles, including his Campus 5 (with vocalist Hilary Alexander) as well as his Rhythm Busters band. The nationally known (in swing circles) group Candy Jackets are lined up to appear, as is the Denver-based Count Basie Tribute Big Band under the leadership of trumpeter Gabe Mervine. Tickets are limited and begin at $25 per night. Get details at cmdance.org.
In other Denver jazz news
- Guitarist and bandleader Al Di Meola is another fusion pioneer who continues to excite his fans. He’ll bring his group to the Boulder Theater on Sept. 8, playing the music of Astor Piazzolla and The Beatles.
- The Freddy Rodriguez Quartet appears at the historic El Chapultepec on Sept. 11.
- Versatile singer Rekha Ohal appears at Dazzle Sept. 12.
- Nocturne is presenting the “Denver Icon Trumpet Series” every Friday night in September. Derek Banach and Shawn Williams take to the stage on the 13th, and Banach appears with the above-mentioned Mervine on the 20th.
- The Neil Bridge Jazz Quartet featuring Karen Lee plays Denver’s La Cour French Bistro and Jazz Club Sept. 20.
- Upcoming releases that have piqued my interest: John Coltrane Quartet, “Blue World” and Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell, “The Adornment of Time” (both being released Sept. 27), Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider, “Sun On Sand” and Tomeka Reid Quartet, “Old New” (both Oct. 4) and Nat King Cole, “Hittin the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)” (Nov. 1.)