“It’s all about providing this incredible music to the community,” says Jazz Executive Director Paul Machado, of the programming that has spilled out, over his two-plus decades at the helm, from Telluride Town Park to a roster of nighttime venues to the Elks Park Stage, which this year is wired for business Friday-Sunday from 12- 10 p.m., to accommodate the 19 shows that are booked for this year’s Celebration.
And that’s in addition, of course, to the main stage in Telluride Town Park, opening its gates Friday-Sunday for a range of shows from Paquito D’Rivera to Tower of Power, Walter, Roberts & Deitch, Allen Toussaint and Rita Coolidge, Taylor Hicks, the Clayton Brothers, the Bad Plus, Edmar Castaneda, Robert Walter, Adam Deitch, the March Fourth Marching Band, Lisa Haley & the Zydekats, Melvin Taylor and so many more.
“From straight-ahead, cutting-edge jazz trios, ensembles and big bands to funk and soul and from New Orleans to Cuba to Brazil to Bogota,” promises Machado, “it's going to be a cultural and musical feast.
“This is the most musically diverse, high energy and fun program we've seen in a long time here at Telluride Jazz,” he adds.
This year’s Jazz Celebration Guest of Honor is Paquito D'Rivera (who last appeared in Telluride at the still-talked-about Jazz Celebration back in 1995), and whose career, like the Celebration itself, spans musical styles that range from Latin to jazz, classical, funk and into the great beyond.
Ten-time Grammy winner D’Rivera will perform with several artists at this year's festival, including Edmar Castaneda, and, in a special Jazz After Dark show, with the Alex Brown Quartet (Brown is just one of the many Telluride AllStars alumni, the group of young artists who ensure the festival will endure).
“I'm just so psyched about Paquito,” says Machado, sounding like the fan that he is. “I've been trying to get him back here ever since 1995. Sometimes the stars need to align in the right place, and they finally did this year. It's exciting to have such a jazz-master legend; to be part of that is really cool.”
Then too, in perhaps the most surprising addition to the lineup, there’s Taylor Hicks, 2006 winner of the American Idol television extravaganza.
Of Hicks, who performs with his band, Machado says, “I wanted to do something to widen the audience, was looking to do something totally different, and this email came in,” from Hicks.
“His great personal idol was Ray Charles; he’s got a rock-soul thing going on,” Machado says, admiringly, “and the more I heard about him,” and his band, the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, “I realized it was a really cool thing to throw in.”
Plus, he adds, regarding Hicks, “His credibility as a top-notch musician is constantly validated,” with Hicks having performed “with such legendary acts as James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and Widespread Panic.” A festival highlight comes Sunday, when Allen Toussaint and Rita Coolidge, two of the music industry’s biggest stars, share a stage for the first time ever.
Toussaint, perhaps best-known for hits like “Working in the Coalmine,” “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky” and “Mother-in-Law,” and two-time Grammy winner Coolidge, known for hits like “Higher and Higher,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and “We're All Alone,” will “deliver an epic show,” says Machado. The Coolidge-Toussaint performance also came about via email, where “I just came across it, while I was communicating with various agents. Allen Toussaint is the legend of New Orleans; he is such a great songwriter, and works in so many different genres.
“And Rita Coolidge has the sexiest voice in the world.”
Of the festival, which starts Friday, Aug. 5, Machado says, it is “bookended by Tower of Power and the incredible funk stuff and then by Rita and Allen, with Taylor Hicks right in the middle.
“There's so much great jazz in the mix; it's the most widespread talent lineup that I've ever had.
“Jazz is so many thing, to so many people,” he muses, “but finally, it's all about the music – and the fun. We've got blues and funk and Brazilian and Latin and Southern rock and soul and New Orleans touch; we've got big-band stuff and straight-ahead stuff.
“And we've got Walter, Roberts and Deitch, who are three legends themselves, in their own groups,” he says, of this year’s Celebration “supergroup,” featuring category is Walter, Roberts and Deitch, bringing together Robert Walter, organist from Greyboy Allstars, Eddie Roberts, guitarist from New Mastersounds and Adam Deitch, drummer from Lettuce, Pretty Lights, John Scofield and Average White Band – plus a horn section – in a one-of-a-kind set. Walter, Roberts and Deitch will perform a set in Town Park, as well as a Jazz After Dark show at the Sheridan Opera House.
Three-day passholders are invited to a Friday evening wine tasting with over 20 varietals on Friday evening, and to morning yoga classes. Tickets can still be bought at www.telluridejazz.org/tickets.htm.