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All That Jazz

May 17, 2018 05:48PM

The artistic heritage of Denver Colorado is undeniable—the city served as the backdrop for such pivotal works as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and the music halls still echo with the sounds of jazz legends like Duke Ellington.

To celebrate the rich cultural legacy of the city, the annual Five Points Jazz Festival returns to East Denver on May 19, 2018. Starting with a parade at 11:00 a.m., Welton Street will be transformed into an openair jazz venue and vendor marketplace that serves as ground zero for the party. Often referred to as “The Harlem of the West,” this portion of Denver came to prominence in the mid-20th century as a hub for both African American culture and jazz music. Some 80 years later, Coloradans and visitors alike can relive the fluid beats and complex rhythms of such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Nat King Cole as they adorn the streets and music halls of Denver.

Jazz music has long represented ideals of originality and progressiveness, serving as an artistic outlet for generations of African Americans and counterculture thinkers. The forward-looking mindset of Denver in 2018 compliments this jazz attitude well: it’s fun, it’s fluid, and it seems to defy all the rules. For the Five Points Jazz Festival, which had 50,000 attendees in 2017, this attitude means a wholesale immersion in everything jazz, with street festivities that include a number of openair stages in the historic business district. To complement the music taking place directly at Welton Street, venues such as Cervantes, The Roxy, and 715 Club feature jazz performances at various times throughout the day.

The organizers of the Five Points Jazz Festival put together an exciting line-up of artists sourced primarily from the greater Denver area. For local artists, Hazel Miller, The Isaac Points Jakarta Band, Leon and the Revival, and William and the Romantics are some of the most notable acts. Coming from out-of-town are such acts as Vancouver B.C.’s Maria Ho Quintet with Richie Cole.

For Denver residents and beyond, the month of May brings with it the promise of impending summertime bliss – why not welcome the season with festive infusions of music, culture, and history? The Five Points Jazz Festival offers these experiences in spades, while setting forth to honor the rich cultural heritage of both Denver and jazz music. —Kent Gruetzmacher



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