Summit Jazz Consort moves to Frisco |

Summit Jazz Consort moves to Frisco

FRISCO – They’ve come from Austria, the Deep South and, of course, the Front Range. One has toured Russia and China conducting and teaching jazz workshops. Another has played with the New World Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. And one became a finalist June 5 with his street percussion band on the FO network’s “30 Seconds to Fame.” Together, they make up the Summit Jazz Consort.

Eighteen professional musicians from the Front Range, Eagle Valley and Summit County take turns playing with the Summit Jazz Consort Thursdays at the Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco. Any given week, three to seven of the 18 musicians join in a spontaneous combustion of music.

“It’s really exemplary of the true nature of jazz,” said Mark Jeffery, who started the consort in 1996 and plays bass and trombone with the group. “We might have harp, keyboards, trumpet and bass one week and clarinet, saxophone, guitar and bass the next.”

The musicians don’t rehearse for their Thursday open sessions – it’s more of a spontaneous oozing of sound. But it has some structure. Together, the musicians have a repertoire of about 300 tunes. They usually begin with jazz standards, and as the night progresses, so does their jazz – into more modern explorations.

Local musicians Sal Mancini, Jennifer Kirby, Janet Harriman and Peter Krainz join such musicians as Dave Laub from the Eagle Valley and Bill Morse from the Front Range to share their love of jazz in Summit County.

Harriman, an alumnus of the National Repertory Orchestra, was classically trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has played for the New World Symphony in Miami, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Central City Opera.

Krainz moved to Summit County from Austria in 1988 and directs and plays his accordion for the Austrian folk band at Der Fondue Chessel at Keystone.

Morse spent a month in Russia and another in China conducting and teaching jazz workshops. He is a professor at Metro State and conducts the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra and the Evergreen Chamber Orchestra.

And a couple weeks ago, drummer Dean Hershfield was one of three finalists in FO network’s “30 Seconds to Fame” with his street percussion band.

As a group, the Summit Jazz Consort played in a live studio session on KUVO, Denver’s jazz station, in September. It also performs at Breckenridge’s Genuine Jazz Festival – this year it plays at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 28.

While spontaneity and musical exploration defines jazz, Summit Jazz Consort brings it up a notch by rotating musicians.

“People can come every week and they’d hear something different,” Jeffery said. “We can play one tune three weeks in a row, but it would sound unique because of the different instrumentation.”

The eclectic assortment of jazz musicians gathers from 6-9 p.m. for free music every Thursday.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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