Jazz Aspen lines up hot acts for June | AspenTimes.com

Jazz Aspen lines up hot acts for June

Stewart Oksenhorn

In terms of artists, Jazz Aspen’s June Festival is holding groundfrom last year. That is saying something, since last year’s four-day bash featuredB.B. King, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,and the first concert in 20 years by Herbie Hancock’s Head Huntersband.This year’s June Festival, set for June 17-20 in Snowmass Village,will feature an equally impressive set of headliners, includingRay Charles, Al Green, Roberta Flack and the Isley Brothers. Openingacts are perhaps a stronger lot than ever, with musicians suchas Bruce Hornsby, Diana Krall and Jonny Lang scheduled for openingslots.In terms of the ambience and spirit of the festival, Jazz Aspenlooks to take things up yet another notch. Most significantly,this year’s June Festival will feature a new tent, with a dramaticallyhigher opening at the back, allowing for better sight lines forlawn patrons. Interior poles will also be eliminated in the newtent, making for better viewing of the stage from the inside.Other changes include earlier starting times for the concerts,expanded post-concert activities, and a free gospel concert onSunday morning.”With the change in hours, what we’re looking at developing isan outer festival, with things that are hipper happening laterat night,” said Jim Horowitz, executive producer of Jazz Aspen.Horowitz noted that Cuban salsa band Maraca y Otra Vision willperform an opening night concert at the Double Diamond and closingnight at the JAS Club Tent on the festival grounds. Also slatedto perform off-stage is Boulder’s electric jazz combo, the DaveWatts Motet.Several of the concerts pair younger artists in the opening slotswith renowned acts in a similar vein. Friday, June 18, pairs headlinerRay Charles, the legendary keyboardist and vocalist, with jazzsinger-pianist Diana Krall. Saturday, June 19 has teenaged bluesand r & b guitarist Jonny Lang opening for soul singer Al Green.”We historically have tried to get situations where the closerwas more established and the opener was more up-and-coming,” saidHorowitz, who founded Jazz Aspen eight years ago. “This year wegot that. The openers are real comers.”The June Festival opens Thursday, June 17 with the Gala performance.Roberta Flack, the vocalist best known for her hit “Killing MeSoftly,” will perform at 6 p.m.; followed by swing band LavaySmith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. An added feature of the newtent is the two dance floors that will be opened up for swingdancing.Sunday, June 20 opens with the traditional morning gospel show.This year’s show, the first with free admission, features the75-voice Colorado Mass Choir. Sunday night closes the festivalwith a double bill of rock-jazz singer-keyboardist Bruce Hornsbyand the long-running r & b/soul band, the Isley Brothers.Tickets for JAS Club members go on sale Monday, March 1 at theWheeler Opera House box office. JAS Club memberships start at$50, and provide discounts on Jazz Aspen events through the summer.Tickets go on sale to the public March 15.

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