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
and Dr. Steve Christopher are the current directors.
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
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 had previous musical
experience, however, in the majority of cases, they are still
involved in "day gigs." The CJW provides a way for
our members to continue playing at a quality level.
The Colorado Jazz Workshop currently offers 3 big bands:
Saturday, 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 3 jazz combos comprised of piano, bass, drums,
guitar and usually 2 to 4 horns.
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 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. The Greely Jazz Festival at the University
of Northern Colorado is the centerpiece of our performance
In addition, the bands are hired to play private functions
and occasional gigs.