Telluride Jazz Festival
It’s not New Orleans, but if you close your eyes, listen, take a deep breath, and imagine, you might be able to transport yourself there for a few moments. But, then again, why wish to be in New Orleans when you can experience Jazz in Telluride, Colorado? Telluride Jazz Festival is a unique summer experience that celebrates the music, food, and culture that is Jazz, and done so uniquely on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains.
Despite Telluride is a small town, but there is nothing small-town about its Jazz Festival. In the past, Jazz has pulled in outstanding acts like The Motet, Victor Wooten, Allen Toussaint, Tower of Power, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, and even Herbie Hancock. There’s a reason why Jazz fans come to Colorado again and again for the Telluride Jazz Festival. It’s a world-class show, in an intimate setting.
August in Telluride is a gorgeous time of year, with warm sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s. Evenings are refreshing with an average in the 50s. Telluride Town Park, home of many local festivals, is also the Telluride Jazz venue, and Jazz fans tend to appreciate the scenery surrounding the stage: aspen and pine trees, 12,000-foot peaks, the freshest air possible, and the rushing of the San Miguel River.
One of the coolest things about Telluride Jazz Festival is the poster that celebrates the festival. With a different artist each year creating the annual artwork, and sometimes the same artist employed for consecutive years, the poster, itself, becomes a collectible. Telluride Jazz posters from years past become both memory and treasure. Roger Mason, Kathryn Vinson Tatum, Mark Barry, and Kent Rich are just a handful of the artists that have had the honor of commemorating Telluride Jazz in poster form.
The band contests each year is a highlight for Telluride Jazz, and festival-goers young and old appreciate this element of competition and the organization thinks of the big picture: Jazz fans can and do make donations that go straight to the community and educational outreach programs. From scholarships for the youth to the Challenge Grant Program, the festival works toward making and keeping music an attainable dream for young people and also expanding music in the schools. Jazz Fest may be one big party, but it’s a party for many purposes, and some of those include making sure the workshops, opportunities, and funding are provided for the next generation.
While celebrating the past of Jazz is certainly a priority, the festival really works to bring the new artists to light. “Finding the new voices in this scene is one of the cool things about Telluride Jazz,” one local states.
In summary, as the mission statement for the Telluride Jazz Society states, this festival exists for the “preservation, appreciation, and artistry of the American art form – Jazz.” At the same time, the organization also maintains that “by bringing internationally acclaimed artists to Telluride, as well as exciting new talent, [they] strive to entertain and educate our audiences and students.”