If you’re a jazz fan and you’re NOT planning to head up to Telluride for the Telluride Jazz Festival, well, you’re a fool. But if you are planning to head up there to catch jazz acts from all over the nation, you’re being awarded cool-people bonus points. You know where the fun(k) is at.
To make the best use of your festival tickets, we advise you to figure out a way to bugger off from work on Friday, and then devote your whole weekend to taking in the sweet sounds of killer jazz acts. The stages are stacked all three days.
Oh, and don’t miss any of our favorite artists from the lineup, which we’ve listed for you below (with show times!), or you’re going to have to give those cool points back. That’s just our policy. Here’s who to catch:
Irma Thomas, the Queen of Soul
When to catch her: Friday at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage
Irma Thomas’ story is really inspiring, and it is a story you can hear in every note of her music. Dubbed the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Thomas’ rise to fame took a winding route, first as a young single mother who made ends meet by working as a dishwasher, cook, and waitress at a restaurant. But that waitressing stint would end up playing a direct role in her jazz career, after she asked the leader of the house band, Tommy Ridgely, for a shot at singing in his band. He gave her the mic, she won over the audience, and the rest is history. Thomas has since amassed a thriving career that has spanned five decades, lots of records, and even earned her a Grammy for best contemporary blues album. You don’t want to miss this diamond take the stage.
Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band
When to catch them: Friday at 6:30 p.m. on the Main Stage; again at 10 p.m. at Sheridan Opera House
It’s not every day that a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer takes the stage in Telluride, Colorado, but Saturday is one of those days, because Jamoie and his Jasssz Band will be playing a killer set at the festival. You may recognize the name Jai Johanny Johansen, now Jaimoe, from the Allman Brothers Band, and this world-famous drummer will be taking the stage with an all-star lineup: David Stoltz on bass, Brian Charette on keyboard, Kris Jensen on sax, and Reggie Pittman on trumpet. If that’s not enough reason to sway you to head to Jamoie’s stage, maybe knowing that these pros will be giving some Allman Brothers classics a jazz tune-up, along with some killer original blues and jazz songs, will.
Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles
When to catch them: Sunday at 4 p.m. on the Main Stage; again at 9 p.m. at The Liberty
Cory Henry is funky. Literally. This badass keyboard player, whose name you may recognize from the Grammy-winning band Snarky Puppy, knows how to put the funk spin on just about anything, working in tandem with a band of talented musicians to improvise the hell out of some funk, and covering songs like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” You don’t want to miss this, or the opportunity to scream out those lyrics with the rest of the crowd.
Sammy Miller and The Congregation
When to catch them: Thursday, 9 p.m. at Sheridan Opera House; again on Friday at 2:10 p.m. on the Main Stage
Joyful jazz. Doesn’t that sound like something you need in your life? Well, that’s because it IS something you need in your life, and lucky you, you can get a hefty dose of just that during Sammy Miller and The Congregation’s set. These guys are the real deal, making music that uplifts the soul and, well, makes you pretty darn joyful. They’ve worked with everyone from Queen Latifah to Lady Gaga, and now they’ll be onstage playing just for you. Sounds like you won the joyful jazz lottery.
When to catch them: Sunday at 5:40 p.m. on the Main Stage
Want to witness the next generation of jazz? Well, then you should check out BadBadNotGood’s set, because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. These Canadian boys first bonded over their mutual love of hip hop, and then later their love of jazz music, which this group takes an entirely new spin on. Their music is modern, totally unique, and anything but pretentious, and they’re barely of legal drinking age. We think you’ll like these Canadians, we really do.