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Rumor has it… Fort Collins is a “Hub for Jazz”

Hot or Not?

A reader asked me to check on persistent rumors he’d heard that Fort Collins has been a hot spot on the jazz radar through the years.

Sorry, but not really. Although time to time there are related bursts of activity, Denver seems to claim most of the title of Colorado’s jazz hub. According to local musician and former music teacher Glenn Shull, high school band programs didn’t include jazz until the late ‘60s.

Others I spoke with say most local enthusiasts hit Denver clubs like Vartan’s and Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret for their regular fixes. The city has a well-documented urban music scene. In fact, a recent article in the Colorado Statesman (http://www.coloradostatesman.com/current_news) notes the Five Points neighborhood is gearing up to revitalize the area with tourism based on its illustrious jazz and African American history.

Even rumors that some great musicians have moved here to retire have turned up very little information, so far. There is, however, an article written by a local aficionado that appeared in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Bullhorn. If anyone knows where we can find a copy of that article, please let us know. That one lost story could hold the key.

Currently Avogadro’s Number (http://www.avogadros.com) does feature mostly “hot” jazz – ragtime and swing – on the first Friday of the month, when the Poudre River Irregulars hit the stage. The sounds of the Just Jazz Quintet can also be heard time to time in the back patio, which is one of the few venues big enough to host the larger groups.

Ace Gillett’s Lounge (http://www.acegilletts.com) opened in March in the lower level of the Armstrong Hotel, which is just off the corner of Olive and College. They offer an historic location and “cool” jazz.

The Fort is also not without its jazz following on the radio. You’ll find historic and modern compositions on KRFC 88.9 FM (http://www.krfcfm.org) Thursday nights, 10 until dawn, and Sundays, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Great timing on the topic as this week the Fort Collins Jazz Experience fills the air. A-Train PR Manager Josh Johnson says, “It’s the only [Colorado] jazz event that’s all jazz.”

There’s more than music at the free festival – special restaurant deals, gallery walk Friday evening and presentations by jazz historians. More details on events at http://downtownfortcollins.com/dba.php/fcjazzlineup/

I am definitely willing to leave this question open.

Next week: “The Return of Satchmo” (or at least the story of the statue that once stood in Old Town Square).

Acknowledgments:

Josh Johnson of A-Train Marketing for the idea, Fort Collins History archives staff for helping me get past the dead ends, and members of The Northern Colorado Jazz Society for sharing their stories.

8 comments to Rumor has it… Fort Collins is a “Hub for Jazz”

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