Have you enjoyed Jazz at Vail Square yet this summer? There is still time! Today’s performance is the perfect kick off to the Pro Challenge coming through Vail tomorrow.
Today’s performance promises to be a toe-tingling time with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.
Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers heat up the Jazz Tent with high-energy jazz and blues that will make anyone and everyone’s body itch to swing. Those who are so inclined are welcomed to take their moves to an open dance floor below the stage.
Hailing from California, Lavay Smith and her band have become a highly revered staple of the San Francisco jazz scene. Of their many awards and accolades, they earned the San Francisco Chronicle’s reader’s choice poll for best band. Nationally, they have been heralded by everyone from actor Dan Akroyd to Bill Clinton for their talent and feel-good dynamic.
The Seattle Times have deemed them “the best thing to come out of the jump/swing revival … the gal can sing her tail off,” and the Boston Globe has commented that the band is “a notable exception to the retro-swing norm. The saucy vocalist and her crew actually know the difference between jump music and bland R&B in corny suits.”
Snapping her fingers and shaking her hips, Smith belts out her very own, “ruby red lip” and “daddy”-filled tunes and also adds a fresh level of richness to numbers by such icons as Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith.
When asked in a recent podcast about how enjoyable it must be to woo younger generations into the realm of classic jazz and swing, Smith said, “What I really love is when an old guy who may not be a musician comes to the show and loves the music and says, ‘they’re playing my music. You guys are doing it right,’”
The seven-piece Skillet Lickers in and of themselves are star-studded. Founded and led by pianist Chris Siebert, who writes most of the band’s original arrangements, every Skillet Licker (Mike Olmos, Danny Armstrong, Jules Broussard, Robert Stewart, Nat Johnson and Howard Wiley) has an A-list track record of Lincoln Jazz Center performances and recordings with everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Qunicy Jones.
“One thing we’ve set out to do in this band is to have some of the power of a big band but the looseness of a small band,” Siebert said. “To play with this horn section, I think, man if I wasn’t playing with them tonight, I’d be paying to see them. I get to play with my heroes and listen to them solo. How did I get to be so lucky?”
What: Jazz @ Vail Square with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22
Where: The weatherproof Jazz Tent at The Arrabelle in Lionshead
Tickets: Preferred seats are $20 in advance, $25 day of show and general admission is FREE on a first-come basis. Visit vailjazz.org.