Guitarist Donavan Dailey and violinist Danny Desantis of the Speakeasy Jazz Quartet played to a packed house at the Last Dollar Saloon Thursday evening for Jazz on Main, a free kickoff to the 43rd annual Telluride Jazz Festival. (Photo by Suzanne Cheavens/Telluride Daily Planet)

There’s something about jazz music that puts a little lip gloss on our burly mountain town. There’s a silk shirt elegance imparted with every fluidly cascading sax run, a cool, late-in-the-evening feeling when the brushes slide over the snare drum head. Thursday evening, Telluride’s charming rusticity took a turn for the hip and urban, when Telluride Jazz Festival’s Jazz on Main took place in a number of venues throughout town.

Music poured out the doors and onto the sidewalks, drawing the jazz music lover from one place to the next. The rain ceded for the youth ensemble, The Abstract Quartet, on the La Cocina de Luz’s patio, where people nodded their heads in the universal sign for “that’s good stuff” as the band grooved. Shoulders swayed and feet tapped in rhythm.

The Floradora’s Charlie Kane, dressed for the occasion, welcomed music lovers into his restaurant, where Soundhouse Quartet had the kettle on high. In the Phoenix Bean, the Crescent Quartet gathered a crowd. The sun and the perfect evening air played a perfect accompaniment.

On the south side of the street, local boys, The Kevin McCarthy Trio, played guitar-led jazz surrounded by priceless art, mute marble statues and a smattering of people transfixed by the music. It was here I learned another word for the brushes a drummer uses when a song requires a softer, less percussive drive — whiskers. Love it.

Last stop on the Jazz on Main ramble was the Last Dollar Saloon, where the local ensemble, the Speakeasy Jazz Quartet, played for a packed house. Guitarist Donavan Dailey pulled perfect notes from his acoustic guitar, while violinist Danny Desantis channeled Stephane Grappelli, making the bartender, Moussa Konare, wonder out loud, “Who is that?”

The happy hour music offering was free and heralded the official start of the 43rd year of jazz in Telluride. While festival patron passholders mingled at One to One Mentoring’s signature fundraiser event, Telluride Top Chef competition in Mountain Village, Telluride’s 9-5-ers got a sweet treat with their after-work libations.

That it could be Jazz Fest every weekend.

—Suzanne Cheavens


A little rain never did dampen the spirit of the Telluride Jazz Festival. The annual August event was moved to the second weekend this year in hopes of better weather, since the first weekend of the month has been historically in the middle of monsoon season. While it did rain at times throughout Friday, the notes could be heard all along Main Street in the a.m., as the festival officially kicked off with the Hooligan Brass Band, which played a set at the farmers market abutting Elks Park. Free programming continued throughout the day in the pocket park with Kingston Winter, La Onda Caribena, Little Big Band, the Wind River Jazz Project and Telluride Jazz All-Stars 25-year Reunion Band providing the tunes to a consistent stream of jovial aficionados.

Telluride Town Park opened at 12:30 p.m. LP and The Vinyl took the main stage shortly after, cranking out their gospel-influenced brand of jazz. Then it was time for some John Coltrane. SoCal twins the Mattson 2 performed the seminal record “A Love Supreme” to an appreciative crowd.

While the Daily Planet couldn’t catch every act Friday before press time, other performers included Matthew Whitaker, Battle of Santiago, Victor Wooten Band and headliner Robert Randolph & the Family Band.

The Saturday main stage slate featured the Telluride All-Stars Jazz Ensemble, Veronica Swift, Voodoo Orchestra, SPAGA, Turkuaz and headliner Trombone Shorty & Orleans Revue.

The festival concludes today (Sunday) with Tyree Morris and Hearts of Worship, Telluride All-Stars 25-year Reunion Band, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Cha Wa and headliner Lettuce playing Town Park. Cha Wa is also leading a New Orleans-style Second Line Parade down Main Street at noon. Bring your beads and booties.

—Justin Criado