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Telluride Jazz Festival, Town Park, Telluride, CO- 8/2-4

On Saturday Morning I opted out of the first couple bands and made my way via gondola up to the disc golf course. They have recently expanded the course to eighteen holes and it was a lot of fun. We made it to the Town Park Stage for the Doug Lawrence Organic Trio. The word “organic” defines this group nicely. They incorporated some soaring sax work from Lawrence, and focused on some swing-heavy jazz. Musically they were intrepid and impressive. They truly created full sound, which might not be expected from a three-piece group.

Latin Jazz extraordinaires Son Como Son were on the stage next. This eclectic group featured some of the most dance-centric music of the entire weekend. Hailing from New Mexico, this salsa band has the ability to play a wide range of Latin music. From bolero to the cha-cha, Son Como Con lead by Cesar Bauvallet is a nonstop musical powerhouse. This elevated energy Latin experience was yet another highlight from this amazing weekend in Telluride. During their set the festival featured a very popular wine tasting for all of the attendees.

Up next was fan favorite Meshell Ndegeocello who defies categorization by playing off of a wide range of styles and sounds. Her set at Telluride was a gentle trip with an almost minimalist approach, accentuated by impeccable vocals from Meshell. Her set was delicately beautiful. It was another chance to witness some serious talent that many including myself have not had the pleasure of seeing live. She and her band played an awesome version of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

The festival headliner Dr. Lonnie Smith had been getting rave reviews all day from his set the previous night at the Sheridan Opera House. As he took the stage on Saturday night it was obvious why. This man is a monster on the organ and he has enough tools and tricks to suck in even the most jaded of music fans. His set was a bit delayed due to some technical issues, however he was finally underway around 6:45 PM. The crowd seemed to squeeze in a bit as the Dr. got going. The music was hypnotic, sucking you into a trance like state. This was intense music ranging from straight up funk to all out acid jazz. His set was fire.

Co-headlining the night was Mr. Stanley Clarke and his bass. He is widely renowned for his work, which again seems to defy genre. He is perhaps best known for his project with Chick Corea, but he is truly established in his own right. He has done it all from film and television work to actually inventing two instruments. His set in Telluride was one of the best we saw all weekend.

Then I trekked up the gentle slope to the Sheridan Opera House to see the New Orleans Suspects for one of the Jazz After Dark festivities shows. This group takes all of the greatness of the music of New Orleans and juices it down into a single serving. The band is made up of members of The Neville Brothers, The Radiators, and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Does it get any more NOLA than that? They got the crowd moving by playing a massive “Food For Thought.” I hung out for a while, then headed over to Fly Me To the Moon Saloon for a little bit of The Stooges Brass Band. These guys are like a younger Dirty Dozen or Rebirth Brass Band. They are high energy and almost playful at times in their delivery. They had some humorous exchanges especially on “Got A Big Fat Woman.” They were hard hitting funky brass jam. It was enjoyable. They also busted out their own take on “It’s All Over Now” made famous by the Rolling Stones. I headed back to my tent in the moonlight and got ready for day three.

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