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Breckenridge jazz festival features favorites

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news

Both Joyce Cooling and Nick Colionne -two Genuine Jazz veterans – have independently adapted the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan to Breckenridge.Cooling expects an “off-the-hook, slam-dunk party” as she performs in Breck Saturday, adding, “What happens in Breckenridge stays in Breckenridge,” while Colionne – tonight’s headliner – said, “What I bring to Breckenridge, I plan to leave in Breckenridge.”

Colionne – whose urban jazz, blues, funk and R&B includes sounds heavily steeped in Chicago’s legendary scene – believes in giving his best at every show.”I plan to leave on the stage everything I got in me,” Colionne said. “That’s how I approach my show every day.”His crackling performances and sizzling instrumentals have launched him to the top of the charts, with albums like “Keepin’ It Cool” (2006) and singles like “Always Thinking of You.” With his latest album, “No Limits,” he pushes the boundaries to create more up-tempo, driving tracks than previous records contained.”I wanted to make it feel like my live performances,” he said. “I try to play with as much energy and drive as a rock and R&B (musician).”And like any respectable rocker, he aims to dress the part. He’s known as the “best dressed man in jazz” and has clothing endorsements from prestigious men’s designer Stacy Adams. But for him, dressing well isn’t all about ego.”I’m a firm believer that I try to dress as well as I can, especially on stage, because I feel the audience deserves that from me,” he said. “They don’t want to see me like I’m gettin’ ready to lay bricks.”Of course, once he breaks out his two preferred guitars, the Epiphone Broadway Elitist and the Gibson L-4, there’s no doubt that his talents lie in building foundations of soulful musical stories. He uses silence and sound in a similar way a writer uses commas, periods, question marks and exclamation points, allowing listeners to feel where the piece is going as he accentuates different aspects.And though audiences will still recognize his signature style they heard in 2005 at tonight’s concert, his hope is that “I’m a little more creative in the things I play.”

Cooling grew up in a musical family, with a mother who taught music and an uncle who played as a professional guitarist with artists like Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. For her, music was a natural part of life. When she was a teenager, staff at the Village Vanguard – one of the oldest jazz clubs in the nation – saw her passion for music, and though they couldn’t let her in the club because she was underage, they would crack their door open so she could sit outside on the steps and listen in on some of the greatest artists.”I owe a lot to the managers and bartenders over there because … that was my school,” Cooling said.But her education didn’t stop there. She listened to all kinds of musicians – from Led Zeppelin to Bach – growing up. Now her influences extend all over the world, from India and Afghanistan to China, Brazil and beyond. “I love borrowing music from here, exchanging ideas from there,” she said. “That’s my nature … I like the metamorphosis of things.”Her latest album, “Global Cooling,” represents the cross pollination that’s taking place in the music industry. Though Cooling still describes the tunes as contemporary jazz, she has layered “colors” in from around the globe: One song features a sitar, giving it an Eastern vibe, another accents the accordion and Spanish-style guitar licks over a funky back beat, while still another lends a Caribbean feel.She’s looking forward to bringing her new sounds to Breckenridge, because the beauty of the mountains – along with the high elevation and the wine – inspires a feeling inside of her that “things are going to open up.”At the risk of sounding like a California hippy, she explained how audience interaction helps blast her into another dimension:”The audience is really a part of the band,” she said. “If you open up those channels of exchange, the audience actually joins the band, and the band feeds off the audience and the music gets taken somewhere else. It goes to that different place, and it’s the audience that takes you there.”


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