Denver and jazz may not spring to mind as quickly as, say, New Orleans and jazz, but jazz musicians have been coming to Denver for over a hundred years– before jazz was even called â€œjazz.â€œ Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker: they all frequented Denver, not to mention their literary offshoots, the jazz-inspired Beats Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady.
Certainly the Five Points neighborhood can make the best claim to this history as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver. It was known as the â€œHarlem of the Westâ€ for its thriving African American scene, replete with fantastic jazz which played almost daily in dozens of clubs, theaters, and speakeasies. The area now hosts an annual Five Points Jazz Festival.
The following clubs are your best bets for 21st century Denver jazz:
El Chapultepec– You can’t go wrong with this granddaddy of jazz. Sinatra, Bennett, Fitzgerald, heck even McCartney, Jagger, and Richards have raised a ruckus here. Try the fiery green chili. It doesn’t get much better than the â€˜Pec’.
Dazzle-Â Â a regular winner for â€œBest Jazz Clubâ€ by the local media and has even begun to draw notice nationally for its seven-days-a-week live jazz. The pizza’s great, too– not necessarily something you find in even the most upscale jazz lounges.
Jazz at Jack’s– Jack’s is co-owned by local-band-done-good Dotsero, perhaps the only jazz band to have its CD played on board an orbiting Space Shuttle (the Endeavor).