Jazz Aspen to host full JAS Café season, in-person June Experience | AspenTimes.com

Jazz Aspen to host full JAS Café season, in-person June Experience

Multi-venue festival to run June 24 to 27

Jazz Aspen Snowmass is planning to host in-person concerts at its annual JAS June Experience (June 24 to 27) and throughout the season at its JAS Café series from June 18 through Aug. 15.

The nonprofit and festival producer is expected to announce details to the public Monday.

The June event would be the first major in-person festival in Aspen since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Colorado. Jazz Aspen did host a truncated JAS Café series last summer but with severely limited capacity in keeping with public health restrictions.

Capacity is still expected to be limited at the June Experience, which is spread across eight small venues in downtown Aspen — a format that debuted in 2019. Crowds are expected to be limited to 50 to 100 people depending on the venue.

“We are closely monitoring the evolving health guidelines and protocols emerging in our industry both nationally and internationally,” Jazz Aspen president and CEO Jim Horowitz said in the announcement. “We are confident that we will be able to safely manage the crowds at all our smaller venues hosting JAS June and summer JAS Café performances. We expect thrills, tears and frequent enthusiastic applause after the long forced silence of live music during COVID-19’s rampage.”

The organization also is still planning to host its Labor Day Experience, the largest pop music festival with crowds in recent years of about 10,000 daily. The canceled 2020 lineup, led by Stevie Nicks and Kings of Leon, had been expected to move to 2021.

“JAS is optimistic its annual season closing festival over Labor Day weekend will take place based on Pitkin County Health guidelines at the time,” the announcement reads. “JAS plans to announce its final lineup of Artists for the event in June. “

In addition to its two annual festivals and the Café series, the annual JAS Academy will expand from two to four weeks, adding small combo sessions for its students from July 11 to 25 to complement its big band sessions July 26 to Aug. 7, led by Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride.

Venues and lineups

The concert venues for the June Experience will include The Little Nell, Here House at Local Coffee, Belly Up Aspen, the Wheeler Opera House, the Velvet Buck at the St. Regis, the rooftop at the Aspen Art Museum and at the Durant Avenue Patron Tent located at the Silver Circle Ice Rink. And, for the first time since its inaugural festival in 1991, the festival will host an event at the Hotel Jerome.

The single-ticket performance, not included with festival passes, at the Jerome Ballroom on June 25 and June 26, will be a New Orleans Revue featuring Dumpstaphunk with bassist George Porter Jr. and the pianist/vocalist Jon Cleary (not included in the Experience passes). Ticket options include an early dinner show and a late show music-only option.

The rest of the June Experience lineup includes artists who were originally scheduled to perform in June 2020.

“Our over-riding theme for 2021 is celebrating our musical roots,” Horowitz said. “Hence, the artistic program is filled with artists who have a long history with the family of JAS, having performed numerous times to great audience acclaim through the years, while also sprinkling the program with numerous artist debuts.”

The lineup includes Denver beloved funk outfit The Motet (Belly Up, June 25/Durant St. Patron Tent, June 26); the classic ’70s sound of The Family Stone (Durant Avenue Patron Tent, June 25, Belly Up, June 26); swinging trad-jazz group Sammy Miller & the Congregation (Belly Up, June 26; Durant Avenue Patron Tent Sunday Brunch Shows, June 27); and making her local debut, vocalist Ms. Bettye Lavette (Wheeler Opera House, June 25, Velvet Buck, June 26).

Additional highlights for general admission pass holders include solo guitar and mouth percussion from Brazilian Badi Assad (Here House, June 25 and 26); flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual (Here House, June 27); and the funky Hammond B-3 Organ Quartets Delvon Lamarr and Jamison Ross (The Little Nell, June 25 to 27).

The Patron/VIP program at the festival will include the a capella vocal sextet Take 6 (June 25); the jazz-reggae fusion act Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express (June 25); vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater (June 25); and jazz vocalist Carolyn Leonhart (Velvet Buck, June 27).

“JAS shines a particular light in its June and JAS Café season on the roots of American popular music,” Horowitz added, “gospel, blues and early jazz which emerged after the Civil War and laid the foundation for the explosion of American popular music and recording in the 20th century.”

The JAS Café shows are expected to open June 18 and 19, over the weekend vacated by the Food & Wine Classic for 2021 as it moved to September, but artists for that weekend have not been confirmed. The summer-long Café series will host shows on the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum and at the Velvet Buck in the St. Regis. Each night at the Café will feature two performances at 7 and 9:15 p.m.

The confirmed lineup includes jazz vocalist and saxophonist Curtis Stigers (July 9); jazz fusion pioneers The Yellowjackets, who performed at the Benedict Music Tent on the opening weekend of Jazz Aspen in 1991 (July 10); jazz pianist and Frost School of Music Dean Shelly Berg & Friends (July 23); Caribbean Carnivale sounds of jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles & Creole Soul (July 24); JAS Academy artistic director and bassist Christian McBride & Tip City (Aug. 5); the jazz vocalist Kurt Elling in his Jazz Aspen debut (Aug. 6); and a blues program from vocalist Catherine Russell (Aug. 13).

The series is slated to close with the Jazz Aspen debut of fusion act Pascal Bokar’s Afro Blue Grazz Band (Aug. 15).

Additional JAS Café shows will be announced at a later date.


A limited number of three-day June Experience general admission passes will be available for sale at 9 a.m. Friday, at http://www.axs.com/jasaspen. JAS Café series tickets also will go on-sale at that time.

All Patron/VIP passes are sold-out based on 2020 purchasers choosing to move their tickets to 2021 following the pandemic postponement.

The June Experience will operate under the guidelines of event gatherings as directed by Pitkin County. All venues are projected to operate at much lower capacities than in 2019.

General admission attendees will choose from four three-day pass schedules, each featuring three shows per night. These assigned showtimes will allow festival producers to manage all venue capacities under COVID-19 restrictions. In addition to the three-day passes, Jazz Aspen is offering a selection of single-show tickets, depending on capacity, which also will go on-sale Friday.

Additional seats will be opened for purchase if capacities and/or distancing requirements change to allow more attendees by early summer. Additional events and venues also are expected to be announced later.