Rendezvous for jazz at Dazzle
Jazz and food make for a sexy evening
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 23:09
The cozy tables, the moody lighting, the unmistakable pulse of jazz—an evening at Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge in Capitol Hill screams romance, without requiring more effort than paying the check.
Most of the biggest names in jazz that come to Colorado stop by Dazzle, widely considered the best jazz club in the state. Owner Donald Rossa and Music Director Kevin Lee manage to curate top-tier talent, both locally and internationally, to play in the venue’s back room seven nights a week.
Denver is an enclave for jazz musicians, who play in each others’ bands, jam together at Dazzle’s Tuesday Jam Sessions, and swap stories and tips over Manhattans at the bar between gigs. If you’ve taken music classes at CU Denver or Metro, you might just see a few of your professors bopping on stage.
Besides the touring talent, Dazzle hosts some of the best local session musicians in regular gigs each month. Ken Walker and his swing-styled sextet play every other Friday at 7 and 9 PM, while Torch Singer Thursdays smolder with a new chanteuse every week at 10:30.
On a turgid Sunday night, when nothing faces you and your partner but reruns of Leverage, The Manuel Lopez Trio is playing at 9 in Dazzle’s dining room. Lopez, backed by UCD instructor Pete Ellingson on the piano and bassist Charlie Mertens, takes advantage of the casual feel of a sleepy Sunday night to expand beyond his Latin roots and riff on modern, progressive jazz.
Dazzle is, of course, a fully functional restaurant which turns out slightly upscale bites until 11 at night. Comfort food is the specialty here, with plates like the “Double grilled cheese” burger ($10.95)—it’s just what it sounds like—and the Ragonetti macaroni and four cheeses ($14.20). The $8 minimum charge means that sampling the rotating créme brulèe special ($3 on late-night menu) is a must when watching Lopez do his thing.
The Dizzy Room, where the trio performs, is the main dining room and a classy space to hang out and chat when the band is on a break; the chrome fixtures and crimson lighting give it a steamy vibe. Just make sure to save you conversations until the band is done. At Dazzle, the music is the main attraction, just as it should be.
Lopez’s loose-limbed, pounding drumming commands attention, as does his band’s aversion to easy covers, instead gravitating to free-flowing modern jazz tunes. Lopez’s wife, Maria often joins the group to sing a few Latin tunes.
Ken Walker’s tastes trend more towards Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington than Chick Corea and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. Performing the in larger Showroom and with a larger band, Walker cultivates a more sumptuous sound that’s better suited to heels and a steak dinner.
Even if the mister or missus doesn’t worship at the altar of John Coltrane, a taste of jazz is an exotic flavor for a bland weekend, or any night of the week.