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2011 Jazz Festival May 14 & 15

Our Jazz Festival Headliner for 2011 will be International Jazz vocal sensation Roberta Gambarini. This Italian-born New York-based Grammy nominated vocal virtuoso’s performance will take place on Sunday, May 15th as part of a two day celebration of Jazz featuring a stellar line-up of performers presenting the music from it’s New Orleans roots to it’s thriving and diverse present, and venturing into it’s exciting future.

The Festival takes place from noon to 5 p.m. each day at Performance Park in Estes Park. Performance Park is located at 417 West Elkhorn Avenue, just West of downtown. The Estes Park Jazz Festival is directed by Max Wagner, and is free to the public courtesy of the Town of Estes Park and our sponsors: Poppy’s Pizza & Mama Rose’s, KUVO Jazz Radio 89.3 FM, the Silver Moon Inn, and Coca Cola; parking is free as well. Estes Park’s Jazz Festival is held in conjunction with Art Walk: a self-guided tour of over 20 galleries, studios, and art exhibits throughout Estes Park. Maps are available at the Jazz Festival and at any participating gallery.

2011 Estes Park Jazz Festival Line Up

Saturday, May 14

Noon-12:45-Estes Park Big Band – Swinging Classic Big Band Sounds

1:05-2:05 ONDA-Latin Jazz/Brazilian, Salsa

2:25-3:35-Chris Lee & Colleen O’Brien Group – Contemporary Jazz Quintet

3:55-5:00-Purnell Steen and Le Jazz Machine – The Music of Harlem, Duke Ellington and more

Sunday, May 15

Noon-1:00-Wil Swindler’s Elevenet – Traditional Jazz concepts with a modern aesthetic.

1:20-2:20-Aakash Mittal Quintet-featuring Dennis Gonzalez on trumpet – Indo-Centric New York BeBop

2:40-3:40-Roberta Gambarini – Grammy-nominated Jazz vocalist

4:00-5:00-Eric Gunnison and Wake Up Call – Original Contemporary Jazz

Artist’s bios

Estes Park Big Band

Led by trombonist Chuck Varilek, this group of talented local musicians, many of whom have extensive musical backgrounds, is known for it’s powerful sound and adherence to the precepts of the Big Band era. Now in it’s 16th year of playing together, the band performs the swinging sounds of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Count Basie.


ONDA (Spanish for “vibe”) is a nine-piece Latin dance band that quickly made a name for itself as one of the best dance bands on the Boulder scene. Founded in 2000, it’s music is a wonderful mix of originals, traditional Latin standards, and rhythms blended with Funk, Latin Jazz, Cumbia, Boogaloo, Merengue, and modern jam arrangements. ONDA’s repertoire is diverse and eclectic. The group’s music encompasses a wide range of Caribbean sounds plus Salsa and Santana, Sinatra and beyond. Front man Roberto Sequeira heads a group whose members are veterans of the Boulder/Denver afro-cuban, jazz and Latin music scene.

The Chris Lee / Colleen O’Brien Group

The Chris Lee / Colleen O’Brien Group is a contemporary jazz quintet that features Ms. O’Brien combining her voice as an instrument with original lyrics along with John Gunther on saxophones and flute with Eric Gunnison on piano, Mark Simon on acoustic bass and Chris Lee on drums.

The Quintet’s music is rich in harmonic textures and extremely lyrical as well as rhythmically adventurous. Chris and Colleen have been making music together for over 30 years.

Purnell Steen and Le Jazz Machine

Pianist Purnell Steen and his swinging Quintet, Le Jazz Machine, are favorites on the Jazz Festival circuit as well as the nightclub scene. The versatile and dynamic piano man’s group features Jazz stars Hugh Ragin on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Max Wagner, Fred Fuller at the bass, and drummer Todd Reid energizing original takes on the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others.

Wil Swindler’s Elevenet

A unique collection of music from a remarkable ensemble, 2008 Gil Evans Fellowship winner Wil Swindler presents his “Elevenet,” featuring some less traditional sounds (bass clarinet, alto flute, euphonium and French horn) to augment the more traditional horn and rhythm sections. With the power of a big band and the intimacy of a jazz quartet, or even a classical chamber ensemble, Swindler masterfully combines the possibilities to create compelling art-music that is somehow honestly fun! The Elevenet performs original music by Wil Swindler as well as a large collection of music by Gil Evans and exciting arrangements from jazz greats John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, A.C. Jobim, Billy Strayhorn and more.

The Aakash Mittal Quintet

The Aakash Mittal Quartet is emerging as a fresh voice in the creative music scene. Their latest self-released album, VIDESH, has been hailed as, “pointing toward new possibilities in improvised music” (The Denver Post). This stems from Mittal’s approach to composition and improvisation, where he seeks to create music that relates to his diverse background of both American and East Indian heritage, drawing inspiration as much from post-bop as from musical traditions of India and electronic field samples. Dennis Gonzalez describes his music as being a new, lyrical form of the jazz tradition, encompassing any and all styles of music from the world of music. His emphasis on the sound of his trumpet and the importance of melody in his music has garnered praise from listeners and critics internationally.

Roberta Gambarini

Celebrated throughout the world by fans, critics and many of the world’s greatest musicians, Roberta Gambarini became a fast-rising star – and a GRAMMY Nominee – with the 2006 release of her debut album, ‘Easy to Love.’ A smashing success on all fronts, Roberta’s debut secured her spot on the international touring circuit, where she continuously graces the most prestigious venues and festivals. The Boston Globe named Roberta as the “true successor to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McRae.” Elder statesman, pianist Hank Jones was moved to publicly proclaim her the “best new jazz vocalist to come along in fifty years.”

Roberta Gambarini was born in Turin, Italy, and started taking clarinet lessons at age twelve. She made her singing debut at age seventeen in jazz clubs around Northern Italy, then moved to Milan, where she worked in radio and television and began recording under her own name in 1986. In 1998, two weeks after arriving in the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory of Music, she was awarded a third place finish in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition. With this credential in hand she left Boston for New York City to find work in jazz clubs. After walking the pavement and knocking on many doors, she finally got her big break in 2006 with the release of her album “Easy to Love,” which caught the attention of jazz critics and musicians. Gambarini has performed with many major jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, and Toots Thielemans, touring worldwide.

Eric Gunnison and Wake Up Call

Eric Gunnison is one of the top pianists on the international Jazz scene; and is a veteran of work with Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Phil Woods, and Jerry Bergonzi, and was pianist and musical director for legendary Jazz vocalist, Carmen McCrae. Currently this highly accomplished and versatile pianist tours internationally with The Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Jazz Orchestra, Roberta Gambarini, and others. Eric makes his home in Denver and has long been one of the cornerstones of the thriving Colorado Jazz scene. Eric’s band, Wake Up Call, features his original music performed by a quintet of some of the top players in the region.

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