Since 1977, Telluride’s majestic perch high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado has been the site of an annual cultural event combining the finest the US has to offer for pristine natural aesthetics with boundless artistic creativity. The Telluride Jazz Festival ranks among the world’s most scenic music events in the country. Add on the desirable intimate format and abundant offering of alpine recreational activities to historical performances from nationally touring acts on outdoor stages during the day and historic venues at night, and the result is an immersive live music experience that has brought audiophiles from around the world for four decades.
America's Destination Jazz Festival
The Telluride Jazz Festival is a three day and night live music event centered around jazz that is held on the first weekend of August every year. An intimate format, enabled by limited ticket sales, offers a unique chance to experience the openness and beauty of the legendary Telluride Town Park music venue, accompanied by a once in a life time soundtrack provided by acclaimed artists, Grammy Award winners, cutting edge innovators, rare super-groups, and some of the best student bands in the country. The core audience of loyal patrons, dedicated locals, and curious travelers creates a relaxed vibe where laying back in your chair or letting your hair down to dance are equally encouraged. Great food vendors and microbrews on tap cover the basic amenities, while additional free wine and spirit tastings from local vineyards and distilleries provide a sample of Colorado’s renowned craftsmanship.
At night the music moves from Telluride Town Park into historic indoor music venues within easy walking distance. There special Jazz After Dark late night performances often present memorable collaborations and up-close viewing of the artists in their element. On Sunday, that kicks off with a Second Line brass band parade down Main Street. Colorful floats, costumes, beads and decorations are all welcome as patrons join in on the march through town.
Nonprofit Education & Outreach Mission
Since 1991, the Telluride Society for Jazz has been a nonprofit education organization dedicated to the preservation, appreciation and artistry of the great American art form jazz. For over two decades the Telluride Jazz Festival and its student programs have aimed to represent music education of the highest order. Hosting 8 student bands each year, including the flagship Telluride Student All-Stars Jazz Ensemble, providing a free stage at the Wilkinson Public Library, and presenting free artist workshops and panel discussions are just a few examples of the organizations efforts during the festival weekend.
To keep the education spirit alive throughout the year the Telluride Society for Jazz also sponsors the Artists in the Schools. The annual event brings acclaimed nationally touring ensemble to conduct interactive performances, instrumental workshops, live Q&Ss, and facilitate the cool aspects of jazz music to all of Telluride’s local schools and students. The Telluride Society for Jazz is supported by generous contributors and sponsors like the Telluride Ski & Gold Club, Raynier Institute and Foundation, Dworbell Inc., The Telluride Foundation, The Telluride Council for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events (CCAASE), Colorado Council on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts, and great people like you.
Four Decades of Incredible Artists
The first Telluride Jazz Festival took place August 26-25, 1977. The then unknown event included the likes of guitar legend Muddy Waters and the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet on the lineup. Gillespie would famously remark, “if this ain’t paradise, heaven can wait” in reference to his impression of Telluride. For the next 40 years the Telluride Jazz Festival would host music greats like Herbie Hancock, Allen Toussaint, Chick Corea, The Neville Brothers, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Kevin Eubanks, Kenny Barron, Paquito D’Rivera, Ernie Watts, Marcia Ball, Richie Cole, Chris Potter, Ragina Carter, Kurt Elling, Stanley Jordan, Diana Krall, Herbie Mann, Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard, Bobby Watson, Kenny Walker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Charlie Hunter, John Scofield, Dave Holland, Victor Wooten, Ron Carter, Bill Frisell, Roy Hargrove, Maceo Parker, Dr. John, The Funky Meters, Jimmy Herring, Dianne Reeves, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Tower of Power, The Bad Plus, Poncho Sanchez, Monty Alexander, Jon Cleary, Joey DeFrancesco and so many more. All are guilt of putting forth their best selves, and executing what is always an inspired performance.
The festival would also usher in a new era of rising talent pushing the genre forward that included Galactic, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Snarky Puppy, Karl Denson, Lettuce, Soulive, Esperanza Spalding, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Robert Walters, Benevento Russo Duo, The Motet, Garage a Trois, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Grupo Fantasma, Rebirth Brass Band, The Greyboy Allstars, The Soul Rebels, March Fourth Marching Band, The Nigel Hall Band, The Nth Power and countless student bands. The result has been a preserved time capsule for the ebb and flow of the infinite force of jazz music.