Our concert in Lions Park was our first chance to play since COVID changed everything.
This has been a difficult time for musicians and for live music. With the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, events suddenly stopped, and we had to cancel performances that had been scheduled beginning in March. We have not had the opportunity to play until now, so we were thrilled that Michelle Woerner, Bob Jensen, and the board of K9s for Mobility came up with the idea to have an outdoor concert at the Brimmer Amphitheater in Lions Park. K9s 4 Mobility’s “All Jazzed Up 2020” was just a perfect evening. The acoustics in the amphitheater were amazing and filled the grassy seating area with sound. Folks were able to sit at a safe distance and enjoy the music without the risk of breathing virus. We were so grateful to be able to gather outside to make music again. It was a perfect evening of live jazz music on the grass.
We played a bunch of songs I love, and I’ve uploaded a couple that I caught on my recorder.
Close to You
Finally, we closed with an original tune that Amaya Arevalo wrote and performed accompanying herself on piano called “Close to You” about being apart from the people we love during this time. As she was playing the sun was setting and the moment was magical. Here is a video she and Tyler Hall produced earlier of her performing her song.
The Mission of K9s 4 Mobility
Founded in 2012, K9s 4 Mobility is a non-profit organization dedicated to enrichng the lives of others through the training, placement and support of assistance dog partnerships. They are a 501c3 non-profit and have trained and placed 33 assistance dogs since they began their work enriching the lives of their owners by enhancing their mobility, increasing their independence and confidence, and providing devoted companionship.
We are thrilled to be playing at the Met Downtown in Cheyenne to ring in 2020
Looking for where to go this This New Year’s Eve? We are thrilled to be playing at one of the best places to be to ring in 2020–the new Metropolitan Downtown in Cheyenne. We have a terrific show lined up and will be playing from 8 pm until the new year rolls over at midnight.
I will be accompanied by some of the best jazz musicians in the region.
Amaya Arevalo on piano
Dennis Griffing on bass
Matt Rathkey on saxophone, and
Bobby Weins on drums
The Met is planning a special buffet for the evening.
Be sure to call to get a reservation for dinner.
Come for the buffet or come later and stay for the music.
This coming Friday is the big day. We will be playing for the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Foundation’s annual big event, Denim & Diamonds, to be held at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne. This year, the theme is “An Evening in Paris.”
Django, Grappelli and Gypsy Swing
I was delighted when I learned about this year’s theme because I love this genre. It made me think about two famous French jazz musicians–guitarist, Django Reinhardt, and Stephane Grappelli, jazz violinist. These men co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934 and popularized a distinctive style of jazz we call gypsy swing. This was a uniquely French phenomenon but would not have developed the way it did if they had not been listening to American jazz. American players and composers like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were a major inspiration and musicians, Coleman Hawkins, for example, worked in France before WWII and American standards along. These tunes became part of the gypsy jazz tradition, songs like “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Honeysuckle Rose” that we associate with the Hot Club de France.
Our set list for Friday includes many tunes written by or popularized by Reinhardt and Grappelli including “Daphne”, “Nuage,” “Minor Swing,” “Limehouse Blues,”and “The Sheik of Araby.” I wanted to emulate this sound, and so I was thrilled when I was able to recruit Jane Uitti on jazz violin and Matt Fuller on guitar for this performance. These songs showcase Jane’s virtuosity on jazz violin and Matt’s fabulous guitar work.
I hear an accordion and it reminds me of Paris
I cannot think about French cabaret music without hearing an accordion in my mind, so I’m delighted that Rodney Sauer will also be joining us on Friday. Last month, I had the pleasure of playing with Rodney for the CRMC Hospital Week celebration, and we had such a great time as a duo performance and had a lot of fun with many of these tunes.
Rodney is stunning on piano as well as accordion. His musical interests include folk dance music, vintage ballroom dance, and silent film scoring with his nationally touring quintet, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. He is also a composer, and we will be playing his original musette entitled “Will You Go to France?” that I love.
Latin music, especially tango, is part of the music of Paris
Another thing I love about Paris is that it has always been alive with the music of diverse cultures, especially Latin American countries. Because of this, we’ll also be playing a number of Latin tunes as a counterpoint to the gypsy swing. Tango is an important part of the sound of Paris. When I saw people dancing the tango for the first time, it was was on the banks of the Seine about fifteen years ago. I was mesmerized. One tune, in particular, that I love to play is “Por Una Cabeza” which you’ll recall from Schinder’s List and The Scent of a Woman. This song was written by a French Argentinian, Carlos Gardel who was born in France, but as a child emigrated to Buenos Aires where he became known internationally as “The King of Tango” for his compositions and masterpiece recordings.
My Favorite French Songs and Singers
Finally, I have pay tribute to some of my favorite singers including Edith Piaf and Yves Montand as well as to the great American performer and Francophile, Earth Kitt. Ms. Kitt was fluent in French and recorded many classic French tunes putting her own saucy stamp on them. We will be playing many of my favorite French cabaret tunes including “La Vie en Rose,” Edith Piaf’s signature song released in 1945–you’ll remember Lady Gaga’s mesmerizing performance of this song in A Star is Born. I’m also doing “Sous le Ciel de Paris (Under the Paris Skies),” and “C’est si Bon.” Below is a link to Eartha Kitt’s cheeky version that I love.
The band for this event
Jane Uitti on violin
Rodney Sauer on accordion
Matt Fuller on guitar
Dennis Griffing on bass
Clare Church on drums
One more thing . . .
Below is a link to a music video from the French band, ZAZ, doing a hip version of the classic, Sous le Ciel de Paris. I’ve watched this at least twenty-five times. It’s great.
Last Friday, we played for “Up, Up, and Away!” the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Gala at Little America.
I turned on my recorder and let it run to capture some live music samples from our gig. It was a great night and there were some great moments. I love this combination of players and instruments. For last week’s gig, we had Shawn Mickelson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Peter Queal on guitar and vocals, Chris Allen on vibraphone, Dennis Griffing on bass, and Ward Durrett on drums backing me up on vocals.
We started off with an hour of music for the cocktail hour then played a couple of sets after dinner. Here are several tunes that I uploaded from the after-dinner music.
We also captured some video accompanied by audio feeds off of the board which I’ll post when I get them back. Hopefully, that will give you a better sound quality and you will be able to see us playing as well, but I hope this gives you an idea of what this show was like.
We are thrilled that JRQ will be providing entertainment for this year’s Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on March 17 at Little America here in Cheyenne.
This year’s gala is being presented by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Wyoming to recognized 150 years of community excellence and celebrate 110 years of supporting the business in our city. The event will recognize exceptional businesses and professionals in Cheyenne including the Chamber’s Person of the Year award.
We will be playing for the cocktail reception which begins at 5:30 and then after dinner and the awards presentations, we will start up again and continue through the evening playing our favorite jazz, Latin, swing and vintage pop tunes.
We’ve added drums and vibes!
I am especially excited to be playing with this expanded group of fabulous musicians. Joining Shawn Mickelson on trumpet, Peter Queal on guitar and vocals, and Dennis Griffing on bass will be Chris Allen on vibraphone and Ward Durrett on drums. The sound that is happening is really tight and very jazzy.
It is unusual these days to encounter a vibraphonist, especially one of Chris Allen’s caliber.
Chris is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied under jazz legend, Gary Burton, among others. (Here is an interesting story on Gary Burton’s life in jazz.) Chris is also an assistant professor of biology at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins and avid rock climber.
Ward is an astonishing drummer. He has been a professional musician throughout his life working in every aspect of the percussion and audio industry. He manages Drums West at Boomer Music Company in Fort Collins.
Shawn Mickelson, Dennis Griffing and Peter Queal
Of course, it is always a delight to be joined by Shawn, “Griff” and Peter who have been part of my group since last year. Shawn is a manager at The Music Depot in Cheyenne. Griff plays with the Cheyenne Symphony and teaches in Fort Collins. Peter now lives in Greeley and has just finished a new album, Humility.
The jazziest joint for live music in Cheyenne, Wyoming this New Year’s Eve will be The Suite Bistro.
Located in the former Frontier Hotel in the heart of historic downtown Cheyenne just a few blocks north of the Depot Plaza, the Suite features a classic drinks and fine dining in an Art Deco setting. Guests enjoy live music every Saturday night, and this week, The Jane Robinett Quartet will be playing from 8 until midnight. To reserve a table, call 307-634-1901.
After weeks of rainy afternoons, we finally had the perfect day for an outdoor event at the Wyoming Historic Governors Mansion’s Prohibition Party benefitting the restoration of this wonderful piece of Wyoming History. The foundation staff did an amazing job of planning this fabulous evening.
We especially enjoyed playing many of our favorite tunes from the 20’s and 30’s
There are so many wonderful tunes from this period–“Them There Eyes,” “Darktown Strutters Ball,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “St James Infirmary,” “Summertime,” and many others.
Dancers from En Avant Dance Studio entertained us with The Charleston
We’ll be back at The Suite Bistro in Cheyenne this Saturday, September 3, for “A Little Cool–a Lotta Hot” jazz.
New Latin Jazz Tunes and Old Favorites
We’ve planned an exciting show featuring some new Latin Jazz tunes. I’ve always loved Alvado Carrillo’s 1959 classic, “Sabor a Mi.” I’ve heard that many consider it to be the most beautiful Mexican love song. We will also be playing “Sao Miguel,” a bolero written by acclaimed guitarist, Robin Nolan, and Brandi Shearer. There will be some Antonio Carlos Jobim–“Corcovado”–as well as “Sway,” “Perfidia,” and my personal favorite, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas.”
Stickin’ With You, Baby–Some Blues
I love Catherine Russell who has done so much to revive some of American’s best blues tunes. We’re playing a cover of “Stickin’ With You, Baby” by Henry Glover and Rudy Toomes. Ms. Russell does a killer rendition on her 2011 album, Bring it Back, which I love. She is the first person to cover this song since Little Willie John recorded it in 1970.
On the Sunny Side of the Street–Great tunes from the Prohibition Era.
Since we played the Historic Governors’ Mansion Prohibition Party last weekend, I stuck on some wonderful songs from the 20’s. “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “St. James Infirmary” are a few, and you’ll love Shawn Mickelson’s brilliant trumpet solos on these.
This is a classic jazz tune by Billy Strayhorn which I love to sing. John Coltrane invited Johnny Hartman to record it with him. Here’s a link to that classic recording: John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman–Lush Life
Call 307-634-1901 for a Table
Seating is limited at The Suite, so call today for a table. Come early and enjoy their fabulous dinner menu, then and stay for a signature cocktail and enjoy the show. We go on at 7:30.
We had a lovely evening playing for the Cheyenne Rotary Club annual picnic at Little America. It stopped raining at 4:30, we took off all the plastic and played our hearts out until it started raining again at 8:00, but had a wonderful time with a bunch of wonderful folks. The band sounded fabulous with Dennis Griffing on bass, Shawn Mickelson on trumpet, Mike Reid on keys and Peter Queal on guitar. I sang and played a little percussion. I especially appreciate Mary Guthrie for organizing this and to the amazing staff at Little America. Here are a few photos of our night.
Join me and the fabulous four on the second Saturday of Frontier Days at The Suite, and celebrate Frontier Days in style! We’ll be playing a toe-tapping line-up of songs including the best Western swing, boogie-woogie, blues and top that all off with some jazz. I’m especially excited that Peter Queal will be joining our rhythm section for this gig. Peter is a fine jazz guitar player from Laramie, and I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeves. The same holds true for Shawn Mickelson! Originally from Cody, Wyoming, Shawn has played the jazz scene all over the country, and I’m thrilled that he lives in my neighborhood, now. What a fabulous trumpet player he is, and it’s such a treat to be able to play with him. Of course, we couldn’t do this without Mike Reid on keys and Dennis Griffing on bass.
This show will be a kick, so come on down, Pardner!