Confirmation: The 2004 Telluride Jazz Celebration


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n. 1.The act of confirming or strengthening; the act of establishing, ratifying, or sanctioning; as, the confirmation of an appointment.
Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim.
- Cowper.
2.That which confirms; that which gives new strength or assurance; as to a statement or belief; additional evidence; proof; convincing testimony.
Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.


Part 1: Thoughts from the Stage
Part 2: The Journey Into Telluride
Part 3: The 2003 Flashback with Larry Coryell
Part 4: The First Night of 2004
Part 5: The Coryell Trio/Confirmation
Part 6: Karl Denson Trio
Part 7: Chris Potter Quarter
Part 8: Nightlife
Part 9: The Duo / Duo Buggin'
Part 10: Skerik and Friends
Part 11: Medeski Martin and Wood
Part 12: Closing Show, Closing Thoughts

Part 1: Thoughts from the Stage
As I looked down at my left hand on the glistening fret-board, I noticed I was shaking. I was trembling with excitement, and shaking from both my fear and nerves just the same. The backdrop was surreal, with a gondola rising up above a giant green mountain whose neighboring sky was crystal clear and glowing blue. As my mind fumbled over fragments of musical ideas I tightened my grip on the guitar and played a few changes just to get my hand to start moving. The guitar echoed out into the park, and across the street where seconds later I heard even more distant reverberations.

The stage was in the center of town, and accessible from four sides to anyone and everyone. I surveyed the anxious crowd formed by faces old and young, as the rest of the band put the finishing touch-ups on their sound. There was a moment of silence before we began, which was just enough time to calm me down, make me smile, and remind me how thankful I was to be a musician. In the crowd I spotted the friendly smiles from Skerik and Mike Dillon and the silvery, supportive glow of Larry Coryell as he walked down from the street. Babies were already dancing in the sun just in front of me, and I found serenity, just soaking in Telluride.

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Part 2: The Journey Into Telluride

As the sixteen-seater "prop-plane" dips down, and rounds the bend through two enormous mountain peaks, the drop in your stomach is the immediate signal to prepare for landing. From Denver, the tiny plane is like a tourist ride over, around, and through the mountains of Colorado. From every seat on the tiny aircraft, you are able to see the single landing strip through the cockpit front window that seems to end right where the mountain ends. That is the last possibility for an uneasy moment anywhere near, in, or around Telluride, Colorado. Once you land, the town, the people, and the atmosphere are all part of a continuing arrival cushion for your comfortable stay.

Looking down the main street at the large mountains and waterfall ahead, the creative energy and anticipation in Telluride is an indescribable feeling. Just days and hours before the Jazz Celebration begins, the people of Telluride, the patrons, the music lovers, the sponsors, the staff, and the musicians are all buzzing with the same pure excitement. You can't help but feel and believe "there is no other place like this", even after just arriving.

The architecture has a rich history and unique aesthetic, as many buildings date as far back as the 1800's (even a bank robbed by Butch Cassidy). The scenery is picturesque, and the beauty is inspiring. The mountains are some of the largest in Colorado, and surround the town like a fortress. The peaks are painted by a colorful array of forests, with various rocks and stones in visible layers of sediment. You can see jeeps climbing the steep mountain walls in the distance, and parachutes gliding off of mountaintops with tiny people who get closer and closer to civilization. The gondola ride is more than a scenic adventure, but also a magnet of attraction that draws your desire to return in the winter. Yet nothing feels better than the summer sun, the cool Colorado air, and a weekend booked solid with the lineup prepared for all to enjoy. Larry Coryell himself puts it best, "There is something special in those mountains."

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Part 3: The 2003 Flashback with Larry Coryell

At the 2003 Celebration, the year before, I was there with my band Licorice. At the time, we had only begun to tamper with improvisation. We were a rock band, who vamped, and "jammed", but we were not a jazz band per se. This past year, looking out at the crowd on Sunday afternoon, about to begin our "tribute set", performing our adaptations of the works of Miles Davis, I knew that trip to Telluride was our first stop on a longer journey. We had returned as a new band, with a more advanced study and more refined technique.


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