Saturday, February 11, 2017

(2-10-2017)Organ trio performs smooth styles of the 50's and 60's for Denverites

On the 10th of February, 2017, a “jazz organ trio” consisting of musicians Jeff Jenkins on electric organ, Todd Reid on drum set and Sean Mc Gowan on electric guitar performed for general recital students in attendance at the University of Colorado in Denver, Colorado. The group played songs that sounded like the music of organ jazz groups in the 1950’s and 60’s. The group opened by playing a couple smooth and sophisticated jazz style sets: with Latin style drums, signature “Hammond B3 organ’ sound, and light yet technical guitar style all combining to create a platform for seemingly ever-shifting improvisation and accompaniment. The group traded solos and the players all presented a highly cultivated precision with each upbeat (as well as each down beat, although this Latin rhythm style definitely accentuated the upbeats!)
Organist Jenkins talked about the old “Hammond B3” organs, that were created in the 1950’s and weighed around 500 pounds. The organ setup that he used is actually a digital emulation of the organ. This may be by use of a digital audio workstation and midi technology, or by use of new organ emulation technology. The original organs worked by using big “tone wheels” that you would have to keep oiled up every few months. The organs used drop bars that would trigger the sound of each note. The style and percussive nature of these drop bars were adjustable and could be used to sculpt the sound in certain ways. The original sound of these organs was said to be pioneered by Jimmy Smith, who embraced the percussive qualities of organs. This led to a more modern “Be-pop” sound that utilized an added bass element to the piano/organist’s sound.

 Jenkins also talked about his pedals which consisted of an expression pedal as well as a traditional organ bass pedal. He could control the volume with the expression pedal and play bass notes with the organ pedals. Jenkins explained how one could fuse these two pedals to physically emulate the sound of a plucked bass with one’s feet at the same time as playing organ with one’s hands. This technique was amazing and showed a certain virtuosity to Jenkin’s playing style. Drummer Todd Reid also commented on the importance of the correct level of attack for each bass drum note when accenting these plucked bass emulations. Jenkins also discussed the importance of the pairing of the125 pound “Lesley” speaker model with the Hammond B3 sound. This is important to achieving that deep bass sound. The organ trio was a revolutionary pairing of instruments at the time, and still brings joy to many players and jazz lovers alike. This trio was no different and the musicians brought a high level of technicality to their performance as well as professional etiquette while doing so. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Levitt Denver Pavilion Executive Director Speaks to CU Students

            On the 7th of February, 2017, Levitt Pavilion Denver founder and executive director Chris Zachar visited CU Denver students and talked about the new Denver concert pavilion that will open summer of 2017. Also accompanying him were partners Andy Thomas, (a Denver musician, Levitt partner and music journalist) as well as Chase Wessel, (a CU Alumni, Levitt Partner and former sound person at the Conan O’ Brien television show). The three gentlemen talked about new city plans for an all ages venue in Denver’s own Ruby Hill Park. The venue is projected to have 50 free shows and 30 plus paid concerts featuring touring acts as well as locals.
The venue is part of the Levitt foundation, which has similar venues around the nation. Levitt’s website states that “free Levitt concerts will be presented in 21 towns and cities. Each celebrates its own community and presents high caliber entertainment featuring a rich array of music genres.” (  As Zachar discussed the future pavilion’s plans, he stated that the goal of Levitt Denver was to make arts more accessible to the surrounding area of Ruby Hill Park. The Levitt foundation funds cities and builds pavilions for music. They also help curate an art market or helps develop one that already exists. Ruby Hill Park in Denver is looking to be developed as an arts community with the help of Levitt.
The purpose for Denver’s Levitt project is to “Help make Denver feel like the place to be” (Zachar). Andy Thomas also talked about the importance of bringing music to communities that don’t normally get access to concerts and music events. He spoke on Levitt’s partnerships with Guitar Center to give instruments to kids in the community that couldn’t (without the help of Levitt) afford them. Chase Wessel, who graduated from CU in 2007 explained how he always wanted to own his own venue. Now he helps book for the Levitt pavilion in Denver and has already gotten busy booking for the summer 2017 concert season. The CU Denver students in attendance were exposed to the amazing new project for the music and concert industry that is Levitt Denver, as well as the chance to meet Zachar, Thomas and Wessel. The summer of 2017 looks to be a great first season for the pavilion, as the first show is confirmed to be on July 21st 2017 and will feature a free show by UB40 Legends Ali, Astro & Mickey with special guests Matisyahu and Raging Fyah.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Local Ableton brand manager and CU alumni speaks to students

On the 3rd of February, 2017, Serafin Sanchez (of whom is the local brand manager for the music technology company Ableton Live) visited CU Denver students on the Auraria campus in Downtown Denver Colorado. Sanchez is an Alumni from the CU Boulder, and received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree on that campus. As local brand manager for Ableton Live, Sanchez oversees the region of Colorado as well as southwestern United States. Ableton live is a digital audio workstation much like Protools or Logic, but Sanchez explained how the “session view” in Ableton gives the user a non-linear timeline for music. This gives improvisers the chance to build a song as they play, merging both creating and performing. I think this is the best part of Ableton, and though Protools is important to have as well, Ableton live is a fun and important tool for musicians and producers that want to perform or design sound. The “studio in a box” has become an important part of music production with the invention of tools such as Logic, Protools and Ableton Live.
            CU Denver professor Todd Reid also had an impromptu duo performance with Sanchez, demonstrating the many capabilities of using Ableton live. Sanchez also talked about the Ableton push controllers, which are unique in the way that you can do anything that you can on the laptop, with a midi button pushing type of feel. The duo used live looping technology as well as recording grand piano tracks to manipulate on the spot with these push controllers. In addition to the live performance, Sanchez plays saxophone and performs jazz saxophone with Todd Reid on drums. Sanchez also works with the hip hop group “The Flobots” as well. Ableton is a way that these musicians connect, and transfer files and musical ideas. Ableton and Push are truly remarkable in the way that it combines on the fly production of audio and musical performance by the user together.

            Other Ableton features include a full visual program for plugins called Max for live, Rock vid (which is a way to create videos along with your live performance), and a vast multitude of plugins, EQ’s, midi instruments, and audio effects. Ableton is truly revolutionary for musicians… as it gives the user a limitless canvas of capabilities. The many different options can be overwhelming, but for musicians who are working to improve their craft…Ableton is an amazing tool for making music. If you are by yourself or working with others, Ableton gives the user a new way of producing as well as performing live. Sanchez explained the many capabilities that Ableton gives to users for the visitors on campus. In addition, he demonstrated the importance of technologic relevance in music education in Music colleges such as CU Denver. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

7th Circle Collective Venue Owner talks to Cam Students

7th Circle Collective Venue Owner talks to Cam Students

       On January 31st, 2017 Aaron Saye, owner of the Denver “DIY’ collective 7th Circle music venue came to visit students at the University of Colorado at Denver. He shared the history of the all ages venue (7th circle) that has become a hotspot nationally for underground artists in the United States. As a former student, he described how important it was for him to take music business classes at CU and learn what he could about booking live acts. Although he was a film major, his time learning about the music industry would prove indeed useful to him in his career. The story of the venue is important for Denver as 2016 has seen numerous collective venue shutdowns in Denver and in the U.S., following the deaths of more than 30 people at an Oakland, CA ‘DIY’ music venue that caught fire.  
            Saye described the past few months of shutdowns as a stressful time for him and his venue. He talked about how important it was for his space to have a current zoning permit that it had, as well as it being a formed LLC business that pays taxes. The 7th Circle collective was inspected by a fire Marshall following the Oakland incident and without these documents, it very well could have been shut down along with “The Glob” and “Rhinoceropolis”, which are the two “DIY” venues in Denver that were shut down in 2016.  Although the spaces were not safe and up to city standards, many music fans were devastated to hear of the closures. Saye called it “Dumb luck” that his venue didn’t get shut down as well, because he almost didn’t even have the zoning permit that he needed. Two years earlier, his venue’s zoning issue was brought to his attention by a city official. It is safe to say that if he would have disregarded the official’s warning, 7th Circle would not have passed the Fire Marshall’s inspection.
The tragedy in Oakland is tough to learn from, and brings much attention to the topic of underground all ages venues. Fire departments around the nation now have “DIY” venues under their radar, and for good reason. Saye’s venue is still a success story however… with the venue passing inspections and continuing to have over 100 shows a year. The space remains a spot for both local and touring bands of all sizes looking to grow their audience and hone their craft. Saye wrapped up his discussion by meeting many CU Students who were delighted to meet the man behind “7th Circle”, and get a chance to network with the growing music collective.