Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom at Green Mill, Chicago (October 20, 2017)Although Allison Miller's sextet Boom Tic Boom had just played an acclaimed set at the Chicago Jazz Festival over the Labor Day weekend, she was back in Chicago (with a somewhat different personnel) for a mid-October gig at the Green Mill. Thomas Cunniffe was on a working holiday in the Windy City, and he offers a review of two sets from the Friday performance.
Anat and Avishai Cohen at the Wolf Theatre, Denver (October 27, 2012)In a brilliant program of progressive and re-imagined classic jazz pieces, clarinetist Anat Cohen and her trumpeter brother Avishai brought a taste of the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz scene to Denver's Wolf Theater. Thomas Cunniffe was there and provides this review of the concert and the latest CDs from this talented family.
ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY AT VAIL SQUARE (July 25, 2019)For Ann Hampton Callaway, her “Jazz Goes to the Movies” concerts are more than just misty-eyed trips down memory lane. As she explained to the audience at Vail Square on July 25, 2019, the music explores dreams, both as wish fulfillment and as a salve for a troubled world. In an 18-song, two-act show, she ...
Branford Marsalis & Kurt Elling (DU Newman Center; May 13, 2017)On May 13, 2017, Denver jazz fans had the choice to hear several top-rank artists in live performances across the city. JHO's Thomas Cunniffe joined about 1000 audience members at the University of Denver's Newman Center for a concert by the Branford Marsalis Quartet with guest Kurt Elling. Cunniffe reports that the entire group was in top form, excelling their performances on their recent CD, Upward Spiral.
CHICK COREA/CHRISTIAN McBRIDE/BRIAN BLADE AT MACKY AUDITORIUM (Boulder; October 9, 2019)The supertrio of Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian Blade has so much musical experience that their concert performances can--and frequently do--go in many different directions. At a recent performance at Macky Auditorium, the group used compositions by jazz giants to illustrate its expansion of the trio style. However, "Trilogy 2", the double CD documenting the group's last world tour, offers a freer approach and a (mostly) different repertoire. Thomas Cunniffe reviews both the concert and the CD in this special combined review.
Curtis Fuller & Keith Oxman at Dazzle, Denver (April 13, 2012)It might seem unlikely that a 77-year-old legend of bop trombone and a 53-year-old instrumental music teacher would create a lasting collaboration, but Curtis Fuller and Keith Oxman have done just that. Thomas Cunniffe reviews their latest performance at Denver's Dazzle night club.
Cyrille Aimée at the Lakewood Cultural Center (March 27, 2015)From the stage of the Lakewood Cultural Center, Cyrille Aimée told the audience that she loves performing in Colorado. And so, just a few months after performing in Denver, she and her quartet returned for concert performances of the music from her CD It's a Good Day. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that while the music was superb, the program only showcased part of Cyrille Aimée's abundant talents.
CYRILLE AIMÉE AT THE SOILED DOVE, DENVER (June 6, 2019)The Soiled Dove, a 300-seat club in East Denver was transformed into an intimate cabaret on June 6, 2019, as Cyrille Aimée presented her jazzy interpretations of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway songs. Thomas Cunniffe was there, and in this Concert Review, he reports that the music's presentation varied considerably from her recent CD, as Cyrille used a reduced instrumentation (piano and bass) and added detailed introductions of the songs.
Eric Gunnison & Ellyn Rucker at Dazzle, Denver (June 14, 2012)Eric Gunnison was Carmen McRae's accompanist for the last four years of her career. To honor McRae, Gunnison performed several of her signature songs at Denver's Dazzle night club, featuring Ellyn Rucker's vocals and McRae's original trio arrangements. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the performance.
Greg Garrison’s Improvised Roots at Dazzle Jazz, Denver (January 13, 2012)With the help of Dave Douglas, John Gunther, Aoife O'Donovan and Matt Flinner, Greg Garrison's Improvised Roots shattered the traditional genres of American music with intriguing music that challenged both the musicians and the audience. Thomas Cunniffe reviews their performance at Denver's Dazzle jazz club.
Gretchen Parlato at Rockwood Music Hall, New York City (December 6, 2012)Music (and especially jazz) has the quality of a living organism, changing from night to night as its players find new avenues of expression. After a year of global touring, Gretchen Parlato and her band are recording live versions of songs previously issued on her studio albums. Nicky Schrire attended one of these live sessions in New York City, and offers this concert review.
Jane Monheit at the University of Denver (October 18, 2011)After enduring a decade of misguided criticism, Jane Monheit is now an established performer on the jazz scene. Thomas Cunniffe reviews a performance at the University of Denver that displayed Monheit as a worthy curator of the Great American Songbook.
Jazz History Online Goes East (May 17-25, 2016)In a reversal of Horace Greeley's advice, Thomas Cunniffe went east this spring to examine the possibilities of relocation, meet several friends and hear a lot of live music. In this special Concert Review, Cunniffe reports on the eight sets of music he heard in just one week.
Jim Hall Quartet at Dazzle Jazz, Denver (October 20, 2011)In a rare Denver appearance, jazz guitar legend Jim Hall and his quartet performed subtle entrancing music for a sold-out crowd. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe reports that Hall's improvised lines are as stunning as ever, and his group listens and responds like few others.
Katie Thiroux Trio at Nocturne, Denver (October 3, 2017)When an artist goes on the road to promote a new album, the sounds which come from the bandstand may be significantly different than what was captured in the studio. In the case of bassist/vocalist Katie Thiroux, those differences came from a change in the personnel of her touring group. Thomas Cunniffe reviews Thiroux's live performance at the Denver nightclub, Nocturne, and compares the music played there to Thiroux's new CD, Off Beat.
Kurt Elling and the Swingles at the Soiled Dove, Denver (December 5, 2017)On a chilly night in Denver, Kurt Elling and the Swingles heated up the stage of the Soiled Dove with an eclectic repertoire of jazz, pop, folk, blues and holiday favorites. Thomas Cunniffe was in attendance, and he writes about the spectacular performances by Elling and the Swingles, Elling's outstanding new band, and of a quickly-devised encore that involved all of the singers.
Kurt Elling at the Soiled Dove, Denver (December 12, 2018)In what is fast becoming a holiday tradition, Kurt Elling performed a spectacular concert at Denver's Soiled Dove. This year, he sang two separate sets, one of Holiday music (from his album The Beautiful Day) and the other featuring protest music (from The Questions and the new digital EP, The Questions--LIVE). Thomas Cunniffe reviews both concert sets and the live EP in this Concert Review.
Luciana Souza at the Jazz Standard, New York City (February 13, 2013)Hot on the heels of her Grammy nominations for The Book of Chet and Duets III, Luciana Souza sang a three-day engagement at New York's Jazz Standard. Accompanied by one of her favorite guitarists, Romero Lubambo, she performed classics from the Brazilian and American songbooks. Nicky Schrire attended one of the performances and offers this concert review.
Lynne Arriale: In Concert and On DiscWhile pianist Lynne Arriale's newest disc is her first solo album, she brought her trio with her for a two-night engagement at Dazzle nightclub in Denver. The sets included energetic trio pieces and intimate solo works. In this combined CD/concert review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that Arriale's wide range of styles can both challenge the intellect and touch the heart.
Manhattan Transfer at the Oriental Theatre, Denver (October 27, 2013)At an energetic concert at Denver's Oriental Theatre, the Manhattan Transfer proved that they are still a vital force in vocal music. The group's founding member, Tim Hauser, was unable to travel due to illness, but Thomas Cunniffe reports that Hauser's place was ably filled by m-pact's bass, Trist Curless.
Manhattan Transfer/Take 6 Vocal Summit in Boulder (November 11, 2016)Back in 2011, the Manhattan Transfer and the New York Voices joined forces for a pair of concerts. The vocal summit concept was so successful (artistically and commercially) that several of today's best vocal groups have staged these performances all over the world. One of these concerts, featuring the Manhattan Transfer and Take 6, finally came to Colorado, and Thomas Cunniffe was there. He details their combined performance at Macky Auditorium in Boulder.
Maria Schneider and the CU Jazz Ensemble I (November 18, 2011)Culminating a four-day visit to the Boulder campus, composer/arranger Maria Schneider led the CU Jazz Ensemble I in a superb concert of her music. Thomas Cunniffe reports that the band and guest soloists John Gunther and Brad Goode played Schneider's music with precision and spirit.
MaryLynn Gillaspie at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, Denver (March 4, 2012)One of the founding members of the vocal jazz group Rare Silk, MaryLynn Gillaspie entertained a nearly-full house at Lannie's Clocktower Cafe in downtown Denver. While the majority of the program featured Gillaspie's fine work as a solo singer, Thomas Cunniffe's review notes that the highlight of the concert was a group performance of a Rare Silk chart by the late Todd Buffa.
Northern Colorado Voices & Swingle Singers; Greeley, CO (April 24, 2014)For the opening night concert of the Greeley (Colorado) Jazz Festival presented the Swingle Singers and the Northern Colorado Voices. In his concert review, Thomas Cunniffe reports that the student group represented the finest of current vocal jazz trends, while the Swingles pointed the way to the future with their jaw-dropping performance.
Peter Eldridge & Lauren Kinhan at Dazzle, Denver (February 9, 2012)In the midst of a New York Voices tour of the Western US, Peter Eldridge and Lauren Kinhan came to Denver's Dazzle to perform what Eldridge called a drive-by gig. With the assistance of several outstanding local musicians, they offered a sampling of their original and genre-blurring music. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the performance.
Ryan Keberle and Catharsis (Syntax Physic Opera; February 3, 2017)Like John McNeil's acclaimed quartet Hush Point, Ryan Keberle's quintet Catharsis combines the aesthetics of cool jazz with the energy of contemporary music. With the intriguing front line of Keberle (trombone), Michael Rodriguez (trumpet) and Camila Meza (vocal and guitar), the group embraces the concepts of improvised counterpoint and simultaneous improvisation. Thomas Cunniffe reports on a live performance by this group at Denver's Syntax Physic Opera, and offers a brief history of the ensemble.
The 2014 Vail Jazz Party (August 29-September 1, 2014)On the surface, the Vail Jazz Party doesn't change much from year to year. But the continuing programs like the multi-media tributes and the Gospel Prayer Meetin' have evolved over time, and each party includes fresh concepts, such as this year's piano duets set. Thomas Cunniffe, who has attended several Vail jazz parties, offers his impressions of the 20th anniversary edition in this month's Concert Review.
The Swingle Singers at King Center, Denver (October 12, 2012)In a dazzling concert at the King Center, the Swingle Singers made their first appearance in Denver in three years. They brought with them a new bass singer named Edward Randell, and Thomas Cunniffe reports that Randell is not only carrying on the tradition of his predecessors but adding his own distinctive mark to the group.
The Swingles at Lakewood Cultural Center (March 16, 2019)The loss of a voice can be traumatic to a chamber vocal group. The Swingles arrived for their concert in Lakewood, Colorado, minus one pivotal member, lead soprano Federica Basile, who was unable to travel due to a delayed US artist visa. The group members did some crafty editing of their arrangements, and performed 6-voice versions, with everyone in the group helping to cover the missing soprano notes. Thomas Cunniffe, a longtime fan of the group, reviewed the concert, and reports that the program was still entertaining and that there were no obvious gaps in the harmony.
THE SWINGLES AT POPEJOY HALL, ALBUQUERQUE, NM (December 19, 2019)In a holiday-themed concert at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, The Swingles proved once again that they are without equals among vocal groups. While the group was able to overcome the temporary loss of one member when they sang in Lakewood Colorado last March, their concert in Albuquerque found the entire group present and in splendid voice. In this concert review, Thomas Cunniffe reports that while The Swingles are still in transition, they are at the top of their game performing a wide variety of arrangements (including some dating back to the group's early years)
The Vail Jazz Party (August 31-September 3, 2012)For the past 18 years, Howard and Cathy Stone have hosted a world-class jazz party in Vail, Colorado. The party attracts loyal groups of musicians and fans who share a love for great music. Thomas Cunniffe reviews this year's festivities, which included Cyrille Aimée, Terell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, the Jeff Hamilton trio, Houston Person, James Carter, Niki Haris and the Clayton Brothers.
Tierney Sutton Band at Dazzle, Denver (May 6, 2012)One of the cohesive ensembles in jazz, the Tierney Sutton band played a two-night engagement at Denver's Dazzle nightclub which displayed incredible communication, both among themselves and to the audience. Thomas Cunniffe caught the Sunday night sets and offers this concert review.
Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center, Denver (January 11, 2018)For the Tierney Sutton Band, it's all about the arrangements. Over the past 25 years, the group has created and developed an enormous book, from which they assemble their live and recorded performances. When they appeared at Denver's Newman Center, they acquiesced to the concert posters and presented a concert of Sting songs. Thomas Cunniffe reports that the music successfully reached both the jazz and pop fans in the audience.
Two Colorado Concerts with Maria SchneiderColorado jazz fans were offered a rare treat with two performances by composer/bandleader Maria Schneider in just under two weeks. In addition to a four-day workshop with student musicians from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Schneider brought her entire New York-based orchestra to the Lakewood Cultural Center for a sold-out concert. Thomas Cunniffe was at both concerts and in his review, he notes how the combined repertoire of the concerts offered a unique overview of Schneider's evolution as a composer.
UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival (April 20-22, 2017)JHO principal writer Thomas Cunniffe grew up in Greeley, Colorado and went to music school at that city's University of Northern Colorado. Thus, he has a unique perspective on the annual UNC/Greeley Jazz Fesitival. Over the past four decades, he has seen it grow from a stream of performances by college big bands and combos held in a converted movie theater to a fully professional presentation featuring world-class artists. In his Concert Review, Cunniffe states that the 2017 edition may be one of the best he's witnessed, not only for the stellar performances by Sheila Jordan, Aubrey Logan, Greg Gisbert, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Heath, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Band, but also for a remarkable suite based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival (April 21-23, 2016)The 46th annual Greeley Jazz Festival featured a remarkable array of guest artists including New York Voices, Ellis Marsalis, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Houston Person, Tamir Hendelman and Joey DeFrancesco. However, it was also a reunion of alumni from Greeley's University of Northern Colorado Jazz Studies department. Thomas Cunniffe, who is one of those alumni, offers an extended review of the festival.
VAIL JAZZ PARTY (August 29-September 2, 2019)The 25th Vail Jazz Party featured its usual mix of returning and new artists, several new recurring performances, a new venue for the Party’s most popular event, and an energetic festival staff that is building on the Vail legacy to create new and exciting additions to the existing festival. Thomas Cunniffe's review is accompanied with photos from several fine photographers.