Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Earth, Wind & Fire’s

Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk

 

Few bands transcend genres and audiences like Earth, Wind & Fire, which reshaped the music industry forever with its unique blend of jazz, pop, rock, soul, blues, folk, disco and African music. 

Though Maurice White founded Earth, Wind & Fire (originally known as the Salty Peppers), it was Colorado-born Philip Bailey who helped carry the group to new heights, bringing his famed four-octave vocal range to many of the band’s biggest hits, including “Reasons,” “Fantasy,” “September,” “Sing a Song” and “Shining Star.”

Since its founding in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire has amassed seven Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, the BET lifetime achievement award, the Soul Train Legend Award and Kennedy Center Honors — more than enough accolades to secure its spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fam

In all, Earth, Wind & Fire has sold more than 90 million records and earned more than 50 platinum and gold albums. Two songs, “Shining Star” and “That’s the Way of the World,” have been added to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

When members of the original band split off to pursue new interests, Bailey turned to his two Denver East High School friends to fill the gaps. Larry Dunn, a keyboardist, and Andrew Woolfolk, who played saxophone, had played with Bailey in an eclectic Denver group called Friends and Love, which had opened for Earth, Wind & Fire years before. Each member of the trio found their own success in the music industry, even after their work with Earth, Wind & Fire.

Philip Bailey

Born in Denver in 1951, Bailey grew up listening to the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan and Stevie Wonder. He attended East High School, Metropolitan State University and the University of Colorado, where he and White crossed paths.

Though he is primarily known as an R&B and soul singer, Bailey’s body of work grew to encompass gospel, funk, television and even Broadway. Berklee College of Music awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 2008. His legacy also includes charity efforts that support foster children through music.

Larry Dunn

Dunn was also a Denver-born musician, who had expressed a love of music from a young age, encouraged by his musician father and music-loving mother. At 11, he formed his first musical group and at 15 (with his mother’s permission), Dunn was playing paid gigs at clubs seven nights a week. With Earth, Wind & Fire, he helped introduce the funky keyboard, organ, clavinet and synthesizer playing that would become a staple of the band’s music.

After his stint with the band, Dunn joined Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White’s record label, Kalimba Productions, where he signed several new artists, including The Emotions and Deniece Williams. Skilled in the studio as well, Dunn produced albums for The Emotions, Lenny White, Ramsey, Lewis, Level 42 and Stanley Turrentine. He also released a solo album in 1992.

Andrew Woolfolk

Woolfolk had always been a versatile musician, even as a teenager. He studied soprano and tenor saxophone, percussion and flute, and performed with the Echoes of Youth gospel choir, where he honed his vocal talents and worked with the choir’s organist, future actress Pam Grier. But before Bailey invited him to join the group, he had plans to begin a career in banking.

Woolfolk has also collaborated with notable musicians like Phil Collins, Valerie Carter, Deniece Williams, Level 42 and Ricky Lawson.

Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Jazz Masters & Beyond class of 2017.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 28: 2017 Colorado Music hall of Fame induction at Paramount Theater on November 28, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Michael Martin.)
Larry-Dunn
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Earth, Wind, & Fire Discography

1980 – Faces

1981 – Raise

1992 – The Eternal Dance

2002 – That’s The Way of the World – Alive in ’75

1979 – I Am

1974 – Open Our Eyes

2002 – Live in Rio

1977 – All ‘N All

1972 – Last Days and Time

1975 – Gratitude

1973 – Head To The Sky

1983 – Powerlight

1976 – Spirit

1983 – Electric Universe

1975 – That’s The Way of the World

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John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper

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Bill Szymczyk

Bill Szymczyk

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Dianne Reeves

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Dianne Reeves

Colorado is home to many talented jazz musicians, each of whom have contributed their unique style and sound to the state’s musical legacy. Among the many beloved names that have earned well-deserved spots in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is Dianne Reeves, an award-winning jazz singer with a long and storied career.

row1-diane-reevesReeves has spent more than thirty years sharing her incredible talents with the world, both as a solo artist and as a contributor to the work of other jazz groups and artists. The unique timbre of her elegant, evocative voice and the style and sensitivity she brings to her songs have made her an American treasure.


Friends and family played a huge role in Dianne’s life.

Dianne Reeves hails from a family with deep musical roots, including well-known musicians George Duke and Charles Burrell. Her mother played trumpet and her father sang, so it is perhaps no wonder that she was passionate about music from the very beginning.

Reeves has spent more than thirty years sharing her incredible talents with the world, both as a solo artist and as a contributor to the work of other jazz groups and artists. The unique timbre of her elegant, evocative voice and the style and sensitivity she brings to her songs have made her an American treasure.

Dianne Reeves hails from a family with deep musical roots, including well-known musicians George Duke and Charles Burrell. Her mother played trumpet and her father sang, so it is perhaps no wonder that she was passionate about music from the very beginning.

Born on October 23, 1956, Reeves spent her first two years in Detroit before relocating to Denver with her mother after her father’s passing. Burrell, her uncle, was a bassist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the person who would forever change her life—and music history—by introducing her to jazz.

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Congratulations to Dianne on Being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Spotlight on Dianne Reeves

While a student at Denver’s George Washington High School, Reeves sang in a big band that was invited to perform at the National Association of Jazz Educators. There she was discovered by jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, who would go on to become her musical mentor. After graduation. Reeves spent a short time studying classical voice at the University of Colorado.

In 1976, she moved to Los Angeles at the suggestion of fellow Denverite and founding Earth, Wind & Fire member Philip Bailey, and began to pursue music full-time.

The heart of Reeves’ career has always connected back to jazz, but she has also proved herself more than capable of performing other types of music. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she hopped between various forms of session work, touring with the band Caldera and artist Harry Belafonte, and partnering with Sérgio Mendes.

In 1982, Reeves began her work as a recording artist, quickly becoming known for her eclectic stylings. Her music introduced fans to a new realm that blended jazz with pop, world music, and African-inspired folk music. Much of her early work is distinctly autobiographical, with Reeves crafting extraordinary lyrics with superior skill.

After spending several years playing and touring with Mendes, Belafonte and others, Reeves signed with Blue Note Records in 1987. The eponymous Dianne Reeves claimed the number-one spot on contemporary jazz music charts for an impressive eleven weeks. She went on to record several other albums of note with Blue Note, including The Grand Encounter, Never Too Far and I Remember.

Between 2001 and 2015, Reeves won five Grammy Awards, including for her work in the George Clooney film Good Night and Good Luck. She was also honored with honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School in 2003 and 2015, respectively. In 2018, Reeves achieved one of the ultimate career milestones for an American jazz musician when she was designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Reeves moved back to Colorado in the 1990s, and while her career had taken her beyond her hometown, she has always maintained a passionate base of fans in the state. Dianne Reeves songs are a staple on the soundtrack of famous Colorado music, and for decades, Reeves has stood as a shining example of the state’s diverse musical talents, an essential part of the state’s music history.

Today, Reeves’ story is told at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and she is an integral part of the museum’s carefully selected honorees. Congratulations to Dianne Reeves on her induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Dianne Reeves Discography

2014 – Beautiful Life

1987 – Dianne Reeves

1984 – For Every Heart

1990 – Never Too Far

1996 – The Grand Encounter

1991 – I Remember

2004 – Christmas Time is Here

2000 – In The Moment, Live in Concert

1994 – Art and Survival

1994 – Quiet After the Storm

1997 – That Day

2003 – A Little Moonlight

1989 – Never Too Far

2005 – Good Night, and Good Luck

1982 – Welcome to My Love

2001 – The Calling

1996 – The Palo Alto Sessions

1999 – Bridges

2016 – Light Up the Night

2002 – The Best of Dianne Reeves

1997 – New Morning

2008 – When You Know

2007 – Music for Lovers

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Ron Miles

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Ron Miles

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A 2017 inductee into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, cornet and trumpet master Ron Miles has made an indelible mark not only on the Centennial State, but on the global jazz world, as well. An internationally renowned composer, collaborator and educator, Miles summited the peak of the jazz world with his 2020 release Rainbow Sign, on the iconic Blue Note Records label. For Miles, recording for Blue Note is a high point in a career filled with milestones

Miles was born in Indianapolis in 1963 and moved with his family to Denver at age 11, around the same time he started playing the trumpet. He honed his early musical chops as a member of the jazz combo at Denver’s East High School, where he’s said that he learned to be “subtle and musical, not overly flashy.” Under the tutelage of band director Jerry Noonan, Miles played alongside gifted alto saxophonist and future Hollywood megastar Don Cheadle before heading to the University of Denver to study electrical engineering. While at DU, Miles was in a jazz improvisation class taught by pianist Ron Jolly, who encouraged him to pursue a career as a full-time musician, a possibility that had not previously occurred to the young horn player. According to Jolly, Miles was “the most talented student” he’d ever taught. Heeding his teacher’s advice, Miles changed his major and his life’s path. He also began a long-lasting relationship with the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble and its founder, saxophonist Fred Hess. 

After completing his bachelor’s degree at DU, Miles earned a scholarship for graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music and moved to New York City for a year. In 1987, back in the Mile High City, the Ron Miles Trio (Miles, drummer Mark Fuller and bassist Mark Simon) released its debut, Distance for Safety, on Denver’s Prolific Records label. During this time, Miles was also completing his master’s degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder with his eye on a potential future as a college music professor. While finishing up at CU, in 1988 he began a teaching gig at what was then Metropolitan State College in Denver, forming a relationship with the school that continues to this day.

Since the release of Distance for Safety, Miles’s recording career has been a whirlwind of creativity and collaboration. Recording for Blue Note was particularly rewarding; Miles describes the imprint as “the last American label where you’re able to make the record you want to make.” Blue Note’s Rainbow Sign marks his 12th album as a bandleader, and the next release after Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming, on which Miles played cornet, earned a nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards

Recognized as one of the finest melodists of his era with a gift for improvisation, Miles has lent his distinctive style to the work of a diverse list of musicians, including composer Mercer Ellington, fellow Coloradan and saxophonist Fred Hess, saxophonist and arranger Redman, and legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker. Coward of the County, a 1999 Baker/Miles recording with the DJQ20, a group comprising fellow members of Colorado’s jazz elite, remains a source of pride for Miles, who wrote all but two of the album’s songs. Most notably, Miles’s friendship and partnership with 2017 CMHOF inductee and fellow East High School graduate Bill Frisell spans decades, with each musician adding his unique sound to a multitude of recordings and live performances on stages across the globe. 

Equally resounding is the legacy Miles has created throughout his 31 years at Metropolitan State University Denver, where he continues to inspire and mentor budding Colorado musicians as an instructor and Musician in Residence.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame is proud to honor 2017 inductee Ron Miles for his deep contribution to the global legacy of jazz musicianship, composition and musical education. 

Ron Miles was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2017.

Ron Miles Discography

2020 – Rainbow Sign

2003 – Laughing Barrel

2006 – Stone Blossom

2017 – New American Songbooks

1990 – Witness

2012 – Quiver

1996 – My Cruel Heart

2009 – 3ology

2018 – Still Dreaming

2009 – Go Home

2002 – Heaven

2014 – Circuit Rider

2017 – I Am A Man

1987 -Distance For Safety

1997 – Women’s Day

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Bill Frisell

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Bill Frisell

Many different paths have led talented artists to become part of the Colorado music scene. Bill Frisell’s journey began in Denver, where he spent the majority of his youth. Now, decades later, Frisell’s story is intertwined with both the history of music and the history of the state.

Type of Music

Although Frisell is known as a versatile musician, he’s undeniably an icon of the jazz world. Over his long and storied career, he has worked in jazz fusion, Americana, folk-jazz, country and even classical music, showing just how far his impressive abilities extend.

Among the many defining characteristics of Frisell’s talents are his capability for improvisation and his passion for weaving thematic connections into his music.

Early Beginnings in Colorado

Frisell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951, but Denver served as the backdrop to most of his youth. While his professional experience has been centered on his work as a guitarist, he started as a clarinet player.
Frisell studied with Richard Joiner of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, nurturing a growing passion for the clarinet. Simultaneously, the pop hits played on the radio served as the initial spark for his interest in guitar. His fascination rapidly grew to include the Chicago blues, and Frisell began drawing inspiration from such musical greats as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield and Otis Rush.

As noted in the biography page published on Frisell’s website, a significant turning point in his musical interests came in his teen years:

When I was 16, I was listening to a lot of surfing music, a lot of English rock. Then I saw Wes Montgomery, and somehow that kind of turned me around. Later, Jim Hall made a big impression on me, and I took some lessons with him. I suppose I play the kind of harmonic things Jim would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix.

 

Bill-Frisell

 

Throughout high school, Frisell’s involvement in music never wavered. He contributed his talents to various bands, covering everything from James Brown songs to current pop. After graduating from East High School, he enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado to pursue music studies.

Musician Dale Bruning, who hailed from the Denver area, was Frisell’s first guitar teacher in college. Bruning would continue to be a significant influence throughout Frisell’s, career and remains one of the artists he cites as an inspiration today.

After Frisell graduated from UNC, he continued his studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he worked closely with such well-known names as Jim Hall and Jon Damian, and continued to zero in on his signature style.

A Professional Career that Crossed Genre and Geographical Boundaries

As with so many legendary musicians of our time, Frisell’s big break was one that seemed fueled by the forces of fate. When guitarist Pat Metheny had to miss a recording session for ECM Records, Frisell was recommended as a fill-in. Soon after, Frisell was chosen to be ECM’s in-house guitar player, a role in which he would work closely with various artists.

In 1983, Frisell released his debut solo album, In Line. The tracks featured his work as a solo guitarist and a few duets with bassist Arild Andersen. Around the same time, Frisell relocated to Hoboken, New Jersey, where he quickly leaped into New York’s flourishing jazz scene. There he met several artists that he continued working with throughout his career, including John Zorn, Paul Motian and Joe Lovano.

The 1990s saw Frisell make another big move, this time to the Pacific Northwest. He touched down in Seattle, the city where he released two of his best-reviewed albums: Have a Little Faith and This Land.

From the late 1990s to the present day, Frisell has continued to wow critics and fans alike. Several of his songs have been featured in hit films, and he has also completed work for the Walker Art Center. With dozens of notable albums, the most recent of which debuted in 2020, Frisell shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Take a Deep Dive into Colorado’s Fascinating Music History

Bill Frisell is one of the countless artists who have contributed to the music history of Colorado. Learn more about his work as well as that dozens of other talented musicians by visiting Colorado Music Hall of Fame today.

Bill Frisell Discography

1999 – The Sweetest Punch

1998 – Songs We Know

2001 – Blues Dream

2001 – Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones

2014 – Guitar In The Space Age

2008 – History, Mystery

2011 – Sign Of Life

1987 – Lookout For Hope

2018 – Music IS

2010 – Beautiful Dreamers

2020 – Valentine

2013 – Silent Comedy

2019 – Harmony

2006 – Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian

1999 – Good Dog, Happy Man

1990 – Is That You

1992 – Have A Little Faith

1996 – Quartet

1997 – Nashville

2000 – Ghost Town

1984 – Rambler

2007 – Floratone

2017 – Small Town

2005 – East West

2009 – Folk Songs

2013 – Big Sur

1995 – Live

1995 – Go West

2003 – The Intercontinentals

1983 – In Line

1998 – Gone, Just Like A Train

1989 – Before We Were Born

2011 – All We Are Saying

2008 – All Hat

1998 – Gone, Just Like A Train

2016 – When You Wish Upon A Star

2019 – Epistrophy

1991 – Where In The World

2009 – Disfarmer

1995 – The High Sign One Week

2005 – Richter 858

1994 – This Land

2011 – Lagrimas Mexicanas

2004 – Unspeakable

2002 – The Willies

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Denver East High School

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Denver East High School

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Colorado has an incredible wealth of actors, artists, and musicians to call our own, and it’s astounding to see how many of them came out of Denver East High School.

Many of our Jazz Masters inductees attended East High. Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk of Earth, Wind & Fire all went to Denver East High School, and so did Bill Frisell and Ron Miles, as well as prior inductees Judy Collins and Paul Whiteman.

While Philip Bailey was singing in the Youth Choir with future actress Pam Grier,

future guitar great Bill Frisell was playing clarinet in the school band. A few years later, Ron Miles was playing trumpet in the Denver East High Jazz Band with actor Don Cheadle on saxophone.

A long list of renowned Denver East High alumni spanning many generations have all benefited from the remarkable music programs there.

The Denver East High School Music Program is the very first recipient of the Barry Fey Visionary award presented to the school for making great music possible in Colorado.

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Denver East High was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame, with Jazz Masters class of 2017.

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Earth, Wind & Fire

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Earth, Wind & Fire

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Certain songs will always remind you of particular moments in your life; like your first time you fell in love, or of a certain time and place, or a special event in your life.

It’s a feeling that truly masterful musicians can create for us. But there is one funky group that seems to do this quite often. We are specifically talking about Colorado’s Earth, Wind & Fire – the local band gone global. It is the grounding that all these players have in jazz that has made Earth, Wind & Fire so enduring and expressive. Every time people hear these songs, they only love them more. Members Philp Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk all attended East High School.

Every time people hear these songs, they only love them more.

Larry Dunn was working clubs seven nights a week by the time he was 15, and he signed with Earth, Wind & Fire at the tender age of 17. Larry was already playing rock and jazz gigs and had a regular gig with local blues artist Sam Mayfield.

Andrew Woolfolk is a natural-born saxophone player who infuses every song with exquisite and adventurous playing. Philip Bailey’s four-octave range makes Earth, Wind & Fire’s songs unique, beautiful, and timeless.

Earth, Wind & Fire has taken us on an extraordinary musical journey for more than 40 years. They have used elements of jazz to create pop songs that have become a part of our lives, truly living up to the term “Jazz Masters.” Congratulations, Larry, Philip, and Andrew, for your induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

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Earth, Wind, & Fire has taken us on an extraordinary musical journey for more than 40 years.

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Miles & Frisell

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Miles & Frisell

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By the time Bill Frisell graduated from Denver’s East High School, he was already an incredible guitarist and had begun working with some of the greats.

Bill has held the number-one guitarist spot in the annual Downbeat Critics Poll for nine out of ten years. He has been named Guitarist of the Year 18 times, and he’s won numerous Grammys for his work recording with Petra Haden, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wolleson. Bill continues to collaborate with a wide range of artists and musicians, from Paul Simon to Vinicius Cantuaria. But his most lasting connection and collaboration has been with Denver’s own Ron Miles.

Ron Miles has played in many genres and styles of music with artists from all over the world… Yet there is something uniquely Colorado about the way he approaches all music equally.

Ron Miles has played in many genres and styles of music with artists from all over the world. Yet there is something uniquely Colorado about the way he approaches all music equally. As much as Ron and Bill are both renowned for jazz playing, they both frequently cross musical boundaries into styles like folk, country music and Americana. It is fitting that these two were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame together in 2017.

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It is fitting that Ron Miles and Bill Frisell were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame together in 2017.

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Charles Burrell

Inducted: November 28, 2017

Charles Burrell

Any story of jazz in Colorado must begin with Charles Burrell, also known as the Jackie Robinson of classical music. Burrell, a bassist, is perhaps best known for becoming the first African American to ink a full-time contract with a major American symphony, as he did when he joined the Denver Symphony Orchestra in 1949. But equally impressive is his virtuosic career as a jazz musician, making him one of a rare breed who felt as comfortable in a tux at Boettcher Concert Hall as he did with a cigar in his mouth at Five Points’ Rossonian Lounge.The first notes of Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony proved to be Burrell’s first exposure to an incurable music bug. As soon as he heard the San Francisco Symphony on his family’s crystal radio, the kid from Detroit made it his goal to play under the orchestra’s director, Pierre Moneteux. So, when his 7th grade music teacher asked if anyone wanted to play an instrument, Burrell eagerly followed him to a set of storage lockers and took the last thing left: an aluminum string bass so large his mother thrifted him a Little Red Wagon to help carry it.

To learn his instrument, Burrell practiced for hours every day. Some evenings he would get together with his friends and listen to the swinging sounds of Count Basie, getting his first feel for jazz and blues.Burrell aspired to become a music teacher but joined the Navy during World War II. Stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago, he continued to hone his craft. He jammed in an all-Black big band with famous trumpeter Clark Terry and trombonist Al Grey, while also collaborating with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Northwestern University music groups.

When the war ended, he continued his music education at Detroit’s Wayne State University but was told he would never find work as a Black music teacher. Instead, Burrell hopped on a bus and moved west to Denver, where his mother had recently settled. A career in music wasn’t financially sustainable on its own, but Burrell paid the bills by painting and washing every one of the 9,000 seats at Red Rocks Amphitheatre — the very same venue where he would, hours later, don a tuxedo and perform with the symphony. Meanwhile, sporadic gigs at restaurants and nightclubs further sharpened his improvisational skills.

After ten years, Burrell left Denver and fulfilled his longtime dream, becoming the San Francisco Symphony’s first Black musician. He later joined the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as one of the institution’s first professors of color. When an earthquake shook the Bay Area in 1964, Burrell moved back to Denver, where he would play with the symphony until retiring in 1999. A staple of the local jazz scene, Burrell, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2020, performed alongside the likes of Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan. Along the way, he mentored bassist Ray Brown (Fitzgerald’s husband), keyboardists George Duke and Purnell Steen, and his niece, singer Dianne Reeves, who herself is a Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee.

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Burrell has been honored with the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture and the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. Congresswoman Diana DeGette led a tribute to him on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, referring to him as “a titan of the classical and jazz bass.” But perhaps his most meaningful honor came on his 99th birthday, when the Colorado Symphony honored him with a rendition of the piece that started it all: Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. “I could not believe it,” Burrell told CPR in 2020. “I think it was the first time in my life I really shed a tear because it was so beautiful.”

Charles Burrell was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Jazz Masters & Beyond class of 2017

 

Charles Burrell Discography

1982 – Jim Ranson, Dreams of the Skies

Dreams Of The Skies

1982 – Marie Rhines, Tartans _ Sagebrush

Sagebrush

1988—Don-Ewell-Denver-Concert

Denver Concert

1999 – Joan Tower, Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman

Across The Blue Mountains

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