Things are relatively quiet on the live jazz front as we enter 2022. But there are some attention-worthy acts playing at Denver’s beloved clubs in late January.
Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel has accumulated multiple awards for his knowledgeable approach to the instrument over the past couple of decades. His most recent recordings for the ECM label with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, including “Angular Blues,” from 2020, are fine examples of tasteful, thoughtful interplay. Muthspiel plays like an artist who enjoys paying homage to the innovators before him yet pushes for something new every time out.
COVID-19 has prohibited this excellent trio from touring for the past couple of years, but it plans to touch down at Dazzle Jan. 29-30. Expect therapeutic workouts of originals and standards that should fit ideally in the midwinter Denver environment. Get tickets through dazzledenver.com.
Hammond organ enthusiasts have something special to anticipate on Jan. 26 at Denver’s Nocturne. New York-based keyboardist Brian Charette joins local artist Jeff Jenkins and drummer Michael D’Angelo for a “double organ trio” performance. Charette’s stock as a performer has gone up significantly in recent years: He placed third in the 2021 Downbeat Critic’s Poll, behind the late (and glorious) Dr. Lonnie Smith and the flamboyant Joey DeFrancesco.
Charette is something of a Hammond rarity in that he is as cerebral as he is rambunctious on the instrument. As for Colorado’s Jenkins, he’s known for teaching at CU Boulder and has interacted with legends like Phil Woods, Marlena Shaw, Eddie Harris and Bobby Hutcherson. An album under his name from 2015, “The Arrival,” is packed with swinging energy and ideas, as well as a nice tribute to the eternally underrated keyboard master Larry Young.
It looks as if the Charette-Jenkins pairing will lead to an intelligent, engaging face-off. Find out more at nocturnejazz.com.
This is the time of year when the major labels lay low, and there aren’t a lot of new releases appearing online and at your neighborhood brick-and-mortar record store. But here’s something engaging from electric guitarist Ava Mendoza that appeared at the end of 2021: a solo recording, “New Spells,” which is available digitally, on CD and, for those who enjoy being mesmerized by rotating spools of audiotape, cassette.
Mendoza made a couple of brilliant splashes last year, including showstopping appearances on releases from Matt Mitchell and Kate Gentile (“Snark Horse”) and William Parker (“Mayan Space Station”). Her freewheeling chops made those highly engaging projects even more exciting to experience, and on “New Spells” she releases a joyful blizzard of feedback and noise that would make guitar blaster Sonny Sharrock smile if he were still among us. My favorites are “New Ghosts” (which I’m guessing pays respects to mysterious sax legend Albert Ayler) and “Ampulex Compressa,” a flurry of menace. Listen to the future of the improvised electric guitar at https://avamendozamusic.bandcamp.com/album/new-spells.
And more jazz in January: The brilliant pianist Jason Moran and The Bandwagon appear at Denver’s Holiday Theater on Jan. 14, and he’ll give a talk there the following night. … Marion Meadows and Alex Bugnon play the Soiled Dove Underground Jan. 21. … and The Flatirons Jazz Orchestra takes to the stage of Longmont’s Dickens Opera House on Jan. 28.
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