Different dates, same Telluride Jazz Festival. The annual August event switched to the second weekend of the month this year due to concerns over wet weather, but the lineup is still chockfull of tasty tunes. Plus, the new dates have allowed the festival to team up with One to One Mentoring and the Telluride Chamber Music Festival this year in offering one-of-a-kind programming.
“We did it because the weather historically is a bit better the second weekend of August,” said Patrick Shehan, partnerships coordinator for fest organizer SBG Productions. “ … It also allowed us to do some really cool collaborations.”
Jazz Fest kicks off Thursday night at One to One’s Taste of Telluride at the Peaks Resort & Spa, which is for Patron passholders only.
“We’re going to have one of our student bands playing up there,” Shehan said. “All the patrons get that Taste of Telluride experience and we get to help One to One. It’s a win-win.”
Also on Thursday, there are several free Jazz on Main shows from 4-6 p.m. at the Phoenix Bean (Crescent Quartet), Elinoff Gallery (The McCarthy Trio), Floradora (Soundhouse Quartet), Last Dollar Saloon (The Speakeasy Jazz Quartet) and La Cocina’s patio (The Abstract Quartet). The Victor Wooten Band closes out the first night of the festival with a 9 p.m. show at the Sheridan Opera House.
While VIP and Patron passes are sold out — the first time that’s ever happened, according to Shehan — three-day passes, single day tickets and Jazz After Dark passes are still available. The Jazz After Dark venues are the opera house, Liberty and Moon at O’Bannon’s.
Friday is the first full day of programming. The Society Stage at Elks Park has free shows all day every day, like it’s always had. There’s also a Jazz-Chamber Music fest show Friday night at the Palm Theatre.
Friday’s main stage headliner, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, is no stranger to Telluride, having played here several times before, but Randolph’s excited to be back.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of Telluride Jazz Festival. Being up in the mountains with such an elite class of music artist at this iconic festival that’s always about the love,” he said. “Everyone sings and dances all day.”
The festival certainly is a community-wide celebration with offerings such as the free Society Stage shows and the annual New Orleans Second Line parade down Main Street Sunday.
“We like that,” Shehan said. “We like that it doesn’t feel too busy and we can offer more experiences.”
Lettuce, the festival closer Sunday night, likes that, too. The funk band last played Jazz Fest in 2014.
“We are amped to play Telluride Jazz Fest again,” sax man Ryan Zoidis said. “It’s our favorite ski town in Colorado and it’s epic beauty will fuel the music. We can’t wait.”
The other bands on the slate this weekend are Turkuaz, Cha Wa, SPAGA, Veronica Swift, Matthew Whitaker, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Mattson 2, Battle of Santiago, Danny Green Trio, LP and The Vinyl, Tyree Morris & Hearst of Worship, Voodoo Orchestra, J-Calvin, Telluride Student All-Stars Jazz Ensemble, The Telluride All-Starts Jazz 25th Reunion Band, Little Big Band, La Onda Caribena, Kingston Winter and Stillwater All Stars.
Shehan, a music lover like no other, said he’s excited to check out pretty much every act, but pointed to the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Mattson 2, Battle of Santiago and SPAGA when asked who he’s most excited to see.
“I think Delvon Lamarr’s Final Waltz show at the Liberty Sunday night is going to be a special show,” he said.
SPAGA, Disco Biscuits’ co-creator Aron Magner’s project, has a “new wave electronic jazz-style,” Shehan said, and a new self-titled album out.
“It’s an exciting new band. Magner’s background is in jazz. You feel that jam band Disco Biscuits influence,” he said. “I think it’s going to translate well. It has the jazz, but it also has that jammy sound that so many people in town are into.”
See writer Jessica Lackey’s Orbit feature for more information on Matthew Whitaker, a blind 18-year-old musical prodigy.
For more information, a full schedule and to buy tickets, visit telluridejazz.org.