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Colorado jazz musician Charles Burrell, 103, to be honored at Dazzle

Jazz is music that continues to be handed down through generations, and many eras will be represented locally in October.

Take bassist Charles Burrell, who will be celebrating his 103rd birthday on Oct. 4. Burrell is an inspiring figure in Colorado music history. Burrell was the first African-American musician to join a major symphony orchestra in the United States circa 1949 (the Denver Symphony Orchestra, now known as the Colorado Symphony) and performed with them until the end of the 20th century. Burrell also held court as the go-to bassist in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood, collaborating with a variety of beloved innovators, from Duke Ellington to Billie Holiday.

In 2023, the Charles Burrell Visual & Performing Arts Campus thrives for students in grades K-12 in Aurora, and Burrell’s presence continues to resonate throughout the region.

On Oct. 6, Burrell’s singular life and art will be celebrated at the new Dazzle location in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, with a “lunch brunch” beginning at 11 a.m. Music will be provided by pianist Purnell Steen and the Five Points Ambassadors. Tickets can be purchased through dazzledenver.com.

Samara Joy. (Meredith Traux / Provided by Newman Center)
Samara Joy. (Meredith Traux / Provided by Newman Center)

Vocalist Samara Joy may be 80 years younger than Burrell, but she also embodies the great history of the music. Joy has already collected two Grammy awards for her 2022 album “Linger Awhile.” To listen to her performances on the album, she sounds as if she’s absorbed the techniques of Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald and synthesized them into her own voice. Coming off as simultaneously traditional and new is an impressive thing to accomplish, and Joy manages to do so in a way that seems effortless. She’ll perform at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 15, and this should be a fine opportunity to see a star singer at the beginning of an extremely promising career. Get more information and tickets at newmancenterpresents.com.

The night before he takes to the stage of the Mission Ballroom as a member of the smart, experimental rock group Wilco on Oct. 22, guitarist Nels Cline will take part in the ongoing “Up From The Roots” series on the MSU Denver campus. Cline is certainly one of the most exploratory guitarists in jazz and rock, and this performance will give him a chance to pay tribute to the late Colorado cornetist and bandleader Ron Miles, who died in 2022. (All proceeds from this and other “Up From The Roots” shows will go to the Ron Miles Scholarship Fund.)

“Anyone who met or learned or played with Ron Miles would agree that he was an absolutely beautiful human being, a profound artist, and a true inspiration,” Cline told me recently. “Ron was one of the greatest, in my opinion.”

For this Oct. 21 performance, at 7 p.m. at 800 Kalamath St., Cline will join saxophonist Paul Riola, trumpeter Shane Endsley, guitarist Dave Devine, bassist-guitarist Emmanuel Alexander and drummer Mark Raynes. Expect creative music of the highest order from this and other scheduled shows in the series, currently scheduled on Saturdays through Nov. 4, with different guests like trumpeter Hugh Ragin and guitarist Janet Feder. Get details at msudenver.edu.

And more music: Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter appear at the Boulder Theater on Oct. 8, and Pat Metheny stops there for his “Dream Box” Tour on Oct. 16. … The Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra presents “A Tribute To Chick Corea” at the Arvada Center on Oct. 21. … The Bad Plus and Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog split the bill at the Bluebird Theater Oct. 21. … Chris Botti plays the Paramount Theatre on Oct. 22.

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