Vail Jazz Foundation

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Vail Jazz
VailJazz RGB Web.jpg
GenreJazz, Bebop, Big band, Gypsy Jazz, Latin jazz, Latin jazz, Jazz fusion
DatesVail Jazz Festival: June - August/September
Location(s)Vail, Colorado
Years active1995-Present
Founded byHoward Stone
WebsiteOfficial website Logo.png Search Vail Jazz Foundation on Amazon.

The Vail Jazz Foundation (Vail Jazz) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Vail, Colorado. Through seven unique performance series and three signature educational programs, the mission of Vail Jazz is to perpetuate jazz with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. It was established in 1995 by real estate attorney Howard L. Stone, a lifelong jazz fan. Stone modeled the first annual Vail Jazz Party after Dick Gibson's Jazz parties, made famous for bringing jazz to the Colorado High Rockies over Labor Day Weekend.[1][2] In 2017, Stone received DownBeat Magazine's Jazz Education Achievement Award, in recognition of the impact Vail Jazz's educational programs have had on jazz education.[3]


The Vail Jazz Party was initially presented in 1995 by two jazz fans, Howard Stone and Les Shapiro, who had attended many Dick Gibson Labor Day Weekend Jazz Parties at various locations in Colorado. Gibson pioneered the concept of a jazz party in 1963[4] - a gathering of jazz fans and individual jazz musicians over a weekend in a hotel, where jam session type performances were featured – and presented his jazz parties for 30 consecutive Labor Day Weekends, retiring in 1992.

After Gibson's retirement, in 1995 Stone and Shapiro decided to present their own “Party” in Vail, CO, altering the performance format to allow established jazz groups to perform alongside guest soloists. The initial Vail Jazz Party featured straight ahead jazz performances by 28 musicians at the Cascade Hotel in Vail, Colorado.

After the first year The Vail Jazz Foundation, Inc. (Vail Jazz), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was formed to present the next Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day weekend, coinciding with the first iteration of the now renowned Vail Jazz Workshop. Shapiro retired in 1997 and Stone has continued to lead Vail Jazz ever since. In 1997 the Vail Jazz Festival was created, with a vision to add new venues and different performance series to cater to a larger audience.

In 1999, the performance series Vail Jazz @ The Market was introduced, which brings local jazz talent from the state of Colorado to play at the Vail Farmers' Market each Sunday throughout the summer. In 2008, the popular outdoor series Vail Jazz @ Vail Square was added to the Vail Jazz Festival, based in Lionshead Village and offering an exciting, contemporary lineup of jazz headliners.[5][6][7][8][9] In 2012 the first Vail Jazz Winter Series was introduced, which provides a smaller counterpart to the summer Festival, with a handful of intimate, jazz club style performances. In 2017, Vail Jazz will incorporate a new series, Vail Jazz @ Riverwalk, which will present a community block-party style music experience in Edwards, Colorado.

The Vail Jazz Festival now encompasses over 70 separate performances featuring over 200 musicians, and culminates with the Vail Jazz Party over the Labor Day Weekend each year.

The Vail Jazz Party itself has also expanded over the years, now encompassing five days consecutive days comprised of over 30 sets of music in a variety of formats. In 1998 Vail Jazz introduced a Sunday morning Gospel performance, the Gospel Prayer Meetin,' which has since become one of the event's staples and a community favorite. In 2004 Vail Jazz began presenting multi-media performances focusing on the lives of famous jazz musicians and significant trends in the music. By combining videos, narratives and performances these shows not only entertain but also educate the audience.

Notable Performers[edit]

Notable performers appearing at the Vail Jazz Festival (in alphabetical order): Cyrille Aimée, Monty Alexander, Joey Alexander, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Marcia Ball, Kenny Barron, Alvin Batiste, Shelly Berg, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ray Brown, Jimmy Bruno, George Cables, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michel Camilo, John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Jimmy Cobb, Hank Crawford, Bill Cunliffe, Lou Donaldson, Eliane Elias, Kurt Elling, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Roberta Gambarini, Wycliffe Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Jeff Hamilton, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Barry Harris, Stefon Harris, Hiromi, Red Holloway, Bobby Hutcherson, Plas Johnson, Sean Jones, Diana Krall, Russell Malone, Les McCann, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Mulgrew Miller, James Morrison, Lewis Nash, David “Fathead” Newman, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, John Pizzarelli, Jimmy Ponder, Gregory Porter, Hilton Ruiz, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rhoda Scott, Marlena Shaw, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Terell Stafford, Curtis Stigers, Byron Stripling, Bobby Watson and Phil Woods.

Vail Jazz Workshop[edit]

In 1996, Howard Stone collaborated with noted bassist and jazz educator John Clayton to develop the Vail Jazz Workshop, an intense incubator program based on musical and professional development and learning music by ear. The Workshop has been directed by Clayton since its inception. It provides a 10-day long immersion experience of professional level jazz training, accepting 12 of the most talented high school aged jazz musicians each year from North America after a highly competitive selection process.[10][11] The Workshop enables the students to study and be coached in an environment that emphasizes intense interaction with instructors and fellow students, while providing them with the unique opportunity to perform alongside professional jazz musicians at the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day weekend.

The Workshop boasts a student-teacher ratio of 2 to 1. The instructors of the Workshop include educational director John Clayton on bass, Jeff Clayton on saxophone, Terell Stafford on trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Bill Cunliffe on piano, and Lewis Nash on drums.

Notable alumni of the Vail Jazz Workshop include Robert Glasper, Gerald Clayton, Ambrose Akinmusire, Terrace Martin, Grace Kelly, Eddie Barbash, Justin Kauflin, Tia Fuller, Christian Scott, and Sullivan Fortner.

Vail Jazz Goes to School and Jammin' Jazz Kids[edit]

In 1998, Vail Jazz commenced presenting “Jazz Goes To School,” a jazz studies program for all students in the 4th and 5th grades in Eagle County, Colorado. The program is presented free of charge and reaches over 1,400 students each year, serving over 18,000 students since its inception. The curriculum combines musical performances with discussions of the origins and history of jazz music and jazz fundamentals such as the 12 bar blues, linking social studies subjects with demonstrations of jazz instruments and musical styles.

During the summer when Eagle County schools are not in session, Vail Jazz presents “Jammin’ Jazz Kids” to locals and visitors alike. Presented in conjunction with the Vail Jazz @ The Market performance series, the program teaches the fundamentals of jazz rhythms and improvisation to youngster aged 4 to 12 with hands-on opportunities to play percussion instruments.

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Jazz : Aut Records, Dixieland, The Jazz Groove, Cool jazz, Linda Cable, Patrick Goraguer, Django Reinhardt
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  • List of jazz festivals
  • List of music festivals in the United States


  1. "His Jazz Parties Brought Down the House". The Wall Street Journal. March 20, 2007.
  2. Yoshi Kato (May 2016). "Colorado Jazz Getaways". DownBeat Magazine.
  3. Paul de Barros (June 2017). "Outreach Yields Rewards in Vail". DownBeat Magazine.
  4. "Dick Gibson, Jazz Producer and Fan, 72". The New York Times. June 20, 1998.
  5. "Vail Jazz Festival announces summer lineup". Westword Magazine. April 4, 2016.
  6. "New York-based Grammy winner Gregory Porter was born to boom baritone". Vail Daily. September 1, 2015.
  7. "Grammy performer Joey Alexander set to light up the keys in Vail". Vail Daily. August 4, 2014.
  8. "In the front row for Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue". Vail Daily. August 11, 2008.
  9. "Cecile McLorin Salvant brings sometimes silky, sometimes surly sound to Vail Jazz". Vail Daily. August 10, 2016.
  10. "Best musical teens in the nation roll into town for Vail Jazz Workshop". Vail Daily. August 29, 2016.
  11. Steve Chavis (September 3, 2015). "20 years cultivating greatness at Vail Jazz Workshop". KUVO Jazz.

External links[edit]

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