Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival

Be a part of the 5th Annual Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival, March 24-26, 2017, in Durango, Colorado. World-renowned performers will be Swingin' It Up at the historic Strater Hotel for three entertaining days filled with live music, silent film comedies, dance lessons, after hours parties, and more! Buy Your Ragtime Festival Tickets Here

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This year’s festival brings recurring and new faces to the stage including Morten Gunnar Larsen and members of the Titan Hot Seven. It is going to be a festival to remember!

Adam Swanson at Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalAdam Swanson, Festival Music Director is one of the world’s foremost performers of vintage American popular music, including ragtime, early jazz, the Great American Songbook, and more. He holds a bachelor’s in classical piano and a master’s in musicology from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Although he is only twenty-five years old, Adam has been a featured performer and lecturer at ragtime and jazz festivals across the United States, and he is the only four-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. He made his New York debut in Carnegie Hall at the age of nineteen, where he performed with Michael Feinstein. Adam has performed at the Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as well as in Hungary and Switzerland. He has worked with such musicians as Toronto’s John Arpin, former rock star Ian Whitcomb, and legendary 1950s recording artist Johnny Maddox, who is one of Adam’s greatest influences. Adam performs every summer at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado, where he is musical director of the new Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.

Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalEvan Arntzen is a saxophonist, clarinetist, and vocalist currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. He was instructed by his grandfather, Lloyd Arntzen (clarinetist), who taught him traditional New Orleans jazz from the age of seven. He obtained a degree in saxophone performance from Capilano University in Vancouver and performed extensively with such groups as the October Trio and Amanda Tosoff Quartet, and many prominent Canadian musicians, such as Brad Turner, Ron Samworth and Dave Robbins. Evan has performed at New York’s Town Hall, Symphony Space, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Birdland, Smalls, and the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has performed throughout the United States, Canada and been a guest soloist at festivals in the Netherlands, France, Hungary and Japan. Evan’s has a long-time musical partnership with Canadian trumpeter/singer Bria Skonberg (3-time Downbeat rising star) and as a member of Bria’s Quintet, has performed at multiple festivals, and recorded on her album featuring Ali Jackson, Stefon Harris, Reginald Veal and Aaron Diehl. In New York, Evan performs regularly with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks (Boardwalk Empire, the Aviator), Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Band, and Jon-Erik Kellso’s Earregulars. In 2015 he recorded with the Nighthawks on the soundtrack to the HBO film “Bessie”, a biographical film about Bessie Smith. He is also the co-leader of the Scrub Board Serenaders, a quartet of singing, playing young musicians.

Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival
Marc Caparone, who plays cornet and trumpet, is the son of a jazz trombonist and been listening to classic jazz his entire life. A specialist in the jazz trumpet styles of the 1920’s and ‘30s, he also started a deep interest in jazz history when he began collecting records in his early teens. His first job in a jazz band was at the age of 15, and since then he has performed and recorded with many groups around the world. In 1999 he researched and produced the album Music of The Bolden Era for Stomp Off Records, recreating the music of Buddy Bolden’s band. He has also recorded with Hal Smith’s Rhythmakers, Narvin Kimball’s All Stars, Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, the New El Dorado Jazz Band, the Reynolds Brothers, the High Sierra Jazz Band, and Barbara Dane, as well as with his own groups and with his wife, vocalist Dawn Lambeth. Marc currently plays trumpet with the High Sierra Jazz Band, Carl Sonny Leyland’s House Party, and the Ivory Club Boys. His goal is to carry on the traditions of the great early jazz trumpet players.


Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalDanny Coots started playing drums in 1964 at the age of six in northern New York. From that time he has studied with Nick Baffaro, Rich Holly, Alan Koffman, and Jim Peteresak in percussion. Danny continued his education at Crane School of Music and St. Lawrence University. He became adjunct faculty at St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University, and Potsdam State University from the mid-1970s into the 1990s, while traveling and performing with such jazz greats as Herb Ellis, Will Alger, Spiegle Willcox, Mimi Hines, Phil Ford, Bob Darch, and Pearl Kaufman. In 1995, Danny moved to make his home in Nashville, Tennessee. There he joined the Jack Daniels Silver Cornet Band for five years and helped to found the Titan Hot Seven. At the same time, he played and recorded with such artists as Randy Reinhart, John Sheridan, Neville Dickie, Bob Shultz, Ken Peplowski, Dan Barrett, Allen Vache, Vince Giordano, and Rebecca Kilgore. Danny has recorded extensively in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles on over seventy recordings, including the 2005 Grammy-winning compilation Beautiful Dreamer—The Songs of Stephen Foster. He has performed throughout the world, having appeared in ninety countries.

Brian Holland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalBrian Holland is an internationally renowned pianist, composer, recording artist, and entertainer enjoying a music career spanning more than 35 years. Spending his formative years playing in pizza parlors and clubs throughout Indiana, Brian's career flourished when he discovered the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. In 1999, he won his third title and was retired as "undefeated." He has since returned three times to serve on the judges' panel, most recently in 2014. Brian has traveled the world performing his creative styles of jazz, ragtime, stride, boogie, and blues, and played with some of the hottest jazz bands in the United States; Titan Hot Seven, Wally's Warehouse Waifs, the Holland Rhythm Company, and others. Most recently, Brian and Danny Coots have formed a musical partnership, and together they are quickly building a reputation as the fun and musical duo, Holland & Coots. Brian has thirteen recordings (solo and ensemble) to his credit, and garnered a Grammy nomination for his work with Bud Dresser on their album, "Ragtime - Goodtime - Jazz".

Frank Livolsi | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalMorten Gunnar Larsen, graduated from the Norwegian Academy of Music, and specializes in jazz piano and ragtime. He leads the Ophelia Orchestra, works with Odeon Jazz Quintet, was a longtime member of Magnolia Jazz Band, and periodically has been a member of Ytre Suløen. Morten often plays solo concerts and duo performances with jazz singer Karin Krog, clarinetist Georg Reiss, and singer Ståle Ytterli. As a solo artist, Morten has played with different symphony orchestras performing works by Gershwin and Bernstein. He tours frequently in Norway and abroad – especially in USA, where he has lived for extended periods in New York and New Orleans. Morten has an interest in the music of the Caribbean and South America, and on his most recent solo CD, Creole Connections, (Lawo Classics 2014) gives dedicated focus to these music genres. Morten has involvement in nearly 40 recordings, including solo recordings for the internationally released Fingerbreaker on Decca/Universal. He was awarded the Spellemannsprisen (Norwegian Grammy) for his first solo recording (1976), was nominated in 1990 and 2000, and has been given the Norwegian Jazzforum’sBuddy-prize and the New Orleans Workshop prize. In 1995 he received both an Obie (Off Broadway) and an Outer Critics Circle Award as the soloist in the show JELLY ROLL! in New York. Morten is a honorary citizen of New Orleans.

Carl Sonny Leyland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalCarl Sonny Leyland, originally from England and was drawn to American music he heard on LP records his father would play such as Dixieland jazz, rock and roll of the 1950s and country music of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. At age 15 Leyland discovered boogie woogie when he heard a school friend working through a written arrangement of a tune called JD's Boogie Woogie (Marvin Wright). Captivated by the sound, Leyland was inspired to begin on a path that would become his life's purpose. Leyland went on to explore the piano blues genre, becoming an authority on early and obscure styles such as those played by Cow Cow Davenport, Little Brother Montgomery, Montana Taylor, and Speckled Red to name a few. In 1988 Leyland moved to New Orleans where he would spend the next nine years active on the club scene, quickly gaining a reputation for his authentic blues and early rock and roll stylings. He toured with the Dallas based band Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets whose lineup included blues great Sam Myers. In 1997 Leyland relocated to Southern California and joined Big Sandy and his Flyrite Boys touring with them for over three years. His repertoire expanded to include ragtime and early jazz styles which enabled him to become part of the traditional jazz scene around Los Angeles and San Diego. In June 2003 the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio was formed with drummer Hal Smith and bassist Marty Eggers, and they have recorded seven albums to date and continue to work steadily on the festival scene. Leyland continues his involvement with the rockabilly scene  and plays each year in the backing band at Viva Las Vegas and more recently at the Rockabilly Rave USA.

Carl Sonny Leyland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalSteve Pikal, bass player, has been playing music professionally for many years and is highly regarded as a first call bass player from the Minnesota Twin Cities area jazz scene. He has had the pleasure of working with many top performers and bands over the years. Some of his credits include the Jim Cullum Jazz band, Butch Miles, Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Barbary Coast Dixieland Show band, Dick Hyman, Danny Coots, the Wolverines Big band, Butch Thompson, Hal Smith, John Cocuzzi, Jeff Barnhart, The Midiri Brothers, and the Bill Evans New Orleans Jazz band.



Carl Sonny Leyland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalHolland/Coots Jazz Quintet Brian Holland and Danny Coots first played together in Rwanda, Africa and immediately found the musical magic of this partnership. After having performed around the world and recorded many albums together, this duo has undertaken other projects by adding different players but always insisting on staying true to their sense of ensemble playing, musicality and energy. The Holland/Coots Quintet is exactly that kind of endeavor. Bringing the best from all corners of North America. On reeds and vocals, we are very proud to bring to Durango, Evan Arntzen. Originally from a musical family from Vancouver, BC now living in Brooklyn, New York, Evan has recorded for Sony Records, the Motion Picture industry and performs both on the road and in New York City. Marc Caperone is one of the most highly sought after trumpet/cornet players in early jazz today. Also from a musical family he travels worldwide. On bass the quintet is very lucky to have Steve Pikal. Originally from the Midwest, Steve has performed with everyone from the Jim Cullum Jazz Band to The Artie Shaw Orchestra. The Holland/Coots Jazz Quartet is very excited to bring their style of hot, Classic Jazz to Durango, Colorado.