Edd Nichols, Co-founder
The Colorado Jazz Workshop was founded in 1987 by Edd Nichols and Ken Anderson. Edd was just looking for a place to play, so he put together the first big band. Not just a kicks band and not just “Satin Doll,” but a band that still had some punch. Joining the band was by word of mouth. The first director was Dave Bacon, a local pro trumpet player.
The first big band spawned a jazz combo and an improvisation class, and eventually 2 more big bands and 2 more combos followed.
Several notable directors have conducted our bands in the past: Mike Lucas, Lou Fisher, Fred Hess, Ron Miles, Peter Sommer, Michael Pagan and Greg Caroll. Hugh Ragin, Rex Matzke, Keith Oxman and Marc Sabatella are the current directors. In addition Mike Marlier and Drew Morell act as substitute directors from time to time.
The Colorado Jazz Workshop has been the vehicle for several musicians to re-investigate their musical careers. Numerous groups in the Denver Area are comprised of past and current CJW members.
The function of the Colorado Jazz Workshop is to provide a means to continue the exploration of the Big Band and Jazz Combo musical genre. Our members have previous musical experience. In the majority of cases, however, they are still involved in “day gigs.” CJW provides a way for our members to continue playing at a quality level.
The Colorado Jazz Workshop currently offers 3 big bands: Saturday morning, Monday night and Wednesday night. The instrumentation is typical big band variety: 5 saxes, 4 to 5 trombones, 5 trumpets, piano, bass, drums and guitar.
There are also 5 jazz combos comprised of piano, bass, drums, guitar and usually 2 to 4 horns.
CJW Saturday AM Big Band with Charles McPherson
The big bands play traditional big band jazz from the Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Oliver Nelson, Sammy Nestico and Glenn Miller orchestras, to name a few. Our books are also filled with more contemporary offerings from composers like Tom Kubis, Mike Tamaro, Michael Pagan, Bill Holman, Clayton/Hamilton, Bob Kurnow, Gordon Goodwin, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Hank Levy and Toshiko Akiyoshi.
Our jazz combos play tunes from the Real Books 1 & 2, New Real Books 1, 2 & 3. In addition, several arrangements from the UNC Press and originals from some of our members round out the books.
We like to reward ourselves by playing at various festivals, events and contests. Dazzle Jazz in Denver, Colorado is the centerpiece of our performance schedule with individual performances in the spring and The Colorado Jazz Workshop Jazz Festival held in the late fall (October). Our bands also play at The Greeley Jazz Festival at the University of Northern Colorado.
In addition, the bands are hired to play private functions and occasional gigs.