Vail Jazz Festival returns |

The 28th annual Vail Jazz Festival kicked off this week, with weekly free and paid performances throughout the summer.
Vail Jazz/Courtesy Photo

The Vail Jazz Festival is back for its 28th summer, with free shows every Sunday and ticketed shows every Thursday through August 21.

Each year, the Vail Jazz Festival brings a variety of performances and educational offerings to the valley, hosted by festival founder Howard Stone and led by Executive Director Amanda Blevins. 16 shows featuring local, national and international musicians will take place during the summer months, capped off by the five-day Vail Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend.

“This summer, you’ll find something for everyone at the Vail Jazz Festival,” Blevins said. “From world famous headliners on Thursday nights to free concerts on Sundays, which introduce many sub-genres of jazz to our community.”

Vail Jazz opened Thursday with a launch party at The Arrabelle, featuring Grammy-nominated guitarist Diego Figueiredo and world-renowned clarinetist Ken Peplowski.
Steven Pope/Courtesy Photo

Free jazz concerts at Solaris Plaza

Last summer, the Vail Jazz Festival introduced the Vail Jazz at Solaris Series, a free concert series that provides a platform for local Colorado jazz bands and student musicians to perform for the community. After a successful inaugural season, the series returns this summer, with programming that showcases the many genres of jazz and includes the sounds of soul, funk, swing, big band, Latin and contemporary.

Every Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m., a different group will take the stage at Solaris Plaza. The first free concert of the summer will take place this Sunday, July 3 and will feature the United States Air Force Academy Band, the Falconaires. The Falconaires will present a patriotic set in uniform to celebrate Independence Day.

Most Sunday performances will also include an opening act by a student band, traveling to Vail from high schools across the state. Next Sunday, July 10, a group of students from Kent Denver School will open for Quemando Salsa, an energetic 11-piece Latin band from Boulder.

Every Sunday, Vail Jazz will offer free performances at Solaris Plaza.
Steven Pope

The final Sunday night concert on August 21 will be preceded by a free swing lesson from Swingin’ Denver at 5 p.m., and the dancing will continue throughout the show.

The full list of Sunday performances can be found here:

  • July 3: United States Air Force Academy Band Falconaires
  • July 10: Quemando with opening act student group Azul de Azúcar from Kent Denver School
  • July 17: Lao Tizer Quartet with student group as opening act Denver School of the Arts Jazz Workshop
  • July 24: The Burroughs with student band opening for East High Jazz Combo
  • July 31: Lionel Young Quintet with a group of students opening for Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars
  • August 7: The Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra Sextet presents Sass, Swingin’ and Standards with the opening act of student group CCJA Bebop Police from the CO Conservatory for the Jazz Arts
  • August 14: Tony Monaco’s Tribute to Dr. Lonnie Smith & the Giants of the B-3 with the opening act of the student band UNC Jazz Quintet
  • August 21: Swingin’ Denver free swing lesson at 5 p.m., followed by Peter Olstad’s Rocky Mountain All-Stars

Headliners at Jazz Square

The headliners of the festival will perform every Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Jazz Tent in Lionshead Village, located on the site of the outdoor skating rink. There will also be a special performance on Thursday, July 21 at the Donovan Pavilion in West Vail.

These paid performances feature some of the biggest names in jazz today, from rising stars like Samara Joy and Matthew Whitaker to established jazz greats like Jon Cleary and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Many artists are mainstays of the festival who have formed close personal relationships with Stone and the Vail community.

Headlining performances take place every Thursday night at the Jazz Tent in Lionshead.
Vail Jazz/Courtesy Photo

General admission tickets for headlining performances are $50 per person and premium tickets are $75. Tickets are on sale now at

The full list of Thursday performances can be found here:

  • July 7: Matthew Whitaker Quintet
  • July 14: Jon Cleary – Mardi Gras in July
  • July 21: Birdland Guitar Band by Frank Vignola (special performance at the Donovan Pavilion)
  • July 28: Bria Skonberg Quartet
  • August 4: Samara Joy and Pasquale Grasso Quartet
  • August 11: Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis Soulphony present “Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready”
  • August 18: Multimedia History of Vibrations by Warren Wolf

Jazz club night at The Remedy

This summer, the free Vail Jazz Club Series returns to The Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons hotel on Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m., July 6-August 31.

The Remedy offers a stylish jazz club environment to host jazz pianist Stu MacAskie and his trio, complete with bassist Patrick McDevitt and Alex Heffron on guitar. Each week, the trio will be joined by an array of visiting jazz personalities, creating unique live musical experiences that will differ from week to week.

The performance series will be complemented by cocktails from The Remedy’s expert bartenders and chef-designed culinary options.

Jammin’ Jazz Kids

Jammin’ Jazz Kids returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus, providing an engaging and fun learning experience for youngsters through interactive, hands-on activities that teach the basics of jazz and the art of improvisation.

Beginning July 10, children and their families are invited each Sunday to a free one-hour program at Solaris Plaza that will explore the fundamentals of jazz music, the 12-bar blues, and give attendees the opportunity to play with animated music teachers. .

“The return of Jammin’ Jazz Kids is a celebration of the legacy of our educational programs and a step toward our future goals of growing them,” Blevins said.

Although the program is ideal for children aged four to ten, everyone is welcome. The programs will take place on Sundays, July 10-August. 14, from noon. Attendees can register for the free event online at

Jammin’ Jazz Kids is made possible through the support of private donors and the Epic Promise Foundation.

Vail Jazz Party Tickets On Sale Now

The Vail Jazz Party on Labor Day weekend is a jam-packed concert series that brings together some of the biggest names in the genre in a constellation of group performances. Over the course of five days, the Vail Jazz Party includes daytime music sessions – including the hugely popular Sunday Morning Gospel Session – held in the Jazz Tent at Vail Square in Lionshead Village, and evening events held at the Hythe Vail .

Tickets for all musical sessions are available online now at All individual music sessions are $75, except for the popular Gospel show which starts at $95. All-access passes, which include admission to all music sessions as well as a welcome reception and brunch before the Sunday morning Gospel show, cost $575.

For more information about the festival and upcoming shows, visit

Willie J. Johnson