Born and raised in Colorado, Manuel grew up with a great passion for music. Having a natural taste for Latin music he began playing congas in his early teen years. Not too long after he picked up a pair of drum sticks and began playing the drums. Since then his experiences performing and meeting great musicians has led him to form the Latin Jazz trio. "No one was playing the music I wanted to play" he states. "Which is why I put this group together." The trio quickly became known for playing a variety of repertoire from old Cuban standards to more modern arrangements. In 2007 the band was featured on KUVO 89.3 (Denver Jazz radio) and from that session "Danzon for My Father" was selected to be a part of their "Best of live performances 2007" album.
After many performances Manuel began to be influenced more and more by Michel Camilo, Avishai Cohen, Chick Corea, Hilario Duran, and other small groups. He loved the virtuosity, energy, and most of all the interaction in a small group. In 2008 the trio was asked to back up Grammy award winning Latin Jazz flutist Dave Valentine at Dazzle in Denver, since then the trio has been the format of choice. In 2012 Maria D. Lopez, Manuel's wife, joined the trio to add her unique voice to the groups' sound. Performing romantic boleros to other Cuban repertoire, and her own original repertoire. Currently the group continues to draw from their knowledge and love for this music to push the repertoire to a higher level. Manuel comments on this, "we have some great Michel and Chick tunes, and we've also started playing some of Pete's tunes. Maria adds another dimension, her voice and talents are at home in the group." The trio's latest recording is from November of 2012 entitled "Searching Out" on the Dazzle Records label.
Maria Lopez - voice
Peter Ellingosn - Piano
Charlie Mertens - Bass
Manuel Lopez - Drums
Searching Out-Dazzle Records
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For Manuel Lopez, smooth, sexy, and spicy are only a few words in a never-ending list of ways to des...For Manuel Lopez, smooth, sexy, and spicy are only a few words in a never-ending list of ways to describe his Latin jazz musical empire. Manuel Lopez and his many bands can be found raising the temperature in the hottest spots in Denver.
Lopez, a Colorado native and long time Latin music enthusiast, is the frontman of several different groups in Denver: The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Project (a sextet focusing on Afro-Cuban rhythms), Orquesta La Salsa (a 12-piece salsa band) and The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Trio.
A staple at Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge, Denver’s world-renowned jazz club, the trio is a percussion, piano, and bass combination with a pedigree that would make any Colorado jazz aficionado proud.
On the keys is Peter Ellingson, an UC-Denver instructor of music performance for the College of Arts and Media. Hailing from Illinois, Ellingson brings to Denver a strong performance background and expertise in Afro-Caribbean music that students can experience under his direction of the UCD Latin Jazz Ensemble.
On the bass is another one of UCD’s finest: Jon Cullison, the director of the Pop Rock Ensemble. With over 15 years of professional performance experience, Cullison has a solid reputation as one of the preeminent bass players in Denver. Finally, in charge of the skins is Lopez himself, Latin jazz extraordinaire.
Characterized by Lopez’s fast, hide-hitting beats, the trio captures a sense of rhythm that is both confusing (as jazz often is) and mesmerizing. The trio has an intrinsic way of knowing how to capture a listener’s pulse and send it racing.
Flowing through Lopez’s beats are the roller coaster stories painted by Ellingson on his piano. The two of them together create the emotional tension, which is resolved by the heavy and often dark sounding support of Cullison on his strings.
With each member integrating his personality and immeasurable talent in perfect fashion, the trio is inspiring to performers and the not so musically gifted alike.
An evening with Lopez and company will certainly not disappoint. A night on the town with the trio is a must for any jazzer, especially students at the Auraria campus who can proudly say they have the pleasure of hosting these amazing musicians.
Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Project
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The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Project plays to a packed house at Dazzle on Sunday night, May 27, 2012 ...The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Project plays to a packed house at Dazzle on Sunday night, May 27, 2012 in Denver. Photos by Seth A. McConnell
The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Trio performs weekly at Dazzle
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Latin jazz has become increasingly popular. Since 2007, The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Trio has been re...Latin jazz has become increasingly popular. Since 2007, The Manuel Lopez Latin Jazz Trio has been recognized as one of the best jazz ensembles in Colorado. Manuel Lopez formed the trio, as he wanted to create an outlet to perform Latin jazz, which is also known as Afro-Cuban music.
During a recent interview with Lopez, his passion for music was quite evident. Lopez grew up in a home where Latin music was a very large part of his life, and it helped that his father was a drummer. He has had a passion for music from “about the time he could walk.” Lopez is a Colorado native who began playing drums in his early teens. In high school he was a member of the school jazz band.
His biggest influence was Rudy Royston, who is a drummer and also taught him drums in high school. Royston played a big role in his life; Lopez said that Royston was definitely his biggest influence. Other influences include Oscar Hernandez, Michel Camilo and Cachao.
We talked about the local music scene in Denver. Lopez said that Denver has “a lot to offer musicians.” He went on to tell me that sometimes it takes moving to another city to see what Denver has to offer. Lopez lived in New York for a while and worked with some very talented musicians of a higher caliber; however, he said that Denver has the same high caliber musicians and that our city has “great musicians and great places to play.”
Lopez told me that he tries to make every moment his best. When asked what his best moment was up to this point as a musician, he said that it was definitely performing with Latin Jazz flutist Dave Valentine. In 2008, the trio was asked to back up Valentine, who is a Grammy award-winning musician.
The trio collaborates and writes their own music, with Pete Ellingson (piano) as the main songwriter. Lopez told me “nobody else is doing it (Latin music) the way we are.” The trio quickly became known for playing a variety of repertoire from old Cuban standards to more modern arrangements. In 2007, the band was featured on KUVO and from that session "Danzon for My Father" was selected to be a part of their "Best of live performances 2007" album. He told me that future plans include recording a new album.
The Manuel Lopez Trio features Peter Ellingson (piano), Charlie Mertens (bass), and Manuel Lopez (drums). You can see this talented trio at Dazzle every Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. Be sure to check out their shows - you won't be disappointed!
2012 Sounded Good: The Top Breakout Music Acts In Denver
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Denver is home to some of the most talented musicians around. The local music scene is very supporti...Denver is home to some of the most talented musicians around. The local music scene is very supportive as there are many music lovers in the beautiful mile-high city. Whether you are into rock, jazz, metal, electronica or country, you will find it in Denver, plus much more. Below are five of the best breakout music acts in Denver for 2012.
Usually perform 2 75min sets. Sets can be from 45-90mins long. Repertoire varies-
Some Afro-Cuban standards:
Sabor A Mi
Some modern repertoire:
Life Line Rumba Flamenco
Descarga for Tito
One Step Ahead
Original material from our latest album is also a part of our set, please check out our "EPK" youtube link for more info.
|May 23, 2013 Thursday||6:00 PM||Pace concert series||Denver, CO, US|
|May 25, 2013 Saturday||7:00 PM||House party||Denver, CO, US|
|Jun 8, 2013 Saturday||2:00 PM||Westminster Jazz Fest (72nd||Westminster, CO, US|
|Jun 8, 2013 Saturday||5:00 PM||Denver Art League Market||Denver, CO, US|
|Jun 15, 2013 Saturday||6:00 PM||YMCA party||Lafayette, CO, US|
|Jun 17, 2013 Monday||7:00 PM||Boulder concert series||Boulder, CO, US|
|Jun 20, 2013 Thursday||6:00 PM||Windsor concert series||Windsor, CO, US|
|Jun 22, 2013 Saturday||7:00 PM||American Family Therapy Assoc. at the Millenium Hotel||Boulder, CO, US|
|Jun 23, 2013 Sunday||6:00 PM||City Park Jazz||Denver, CO, US|
|Jun 27, 2013 Thursday||7:00 PM||Loveland concert series||Loveland, CO, US|
|Jul 21, 2013 Sunday||12:00 PM||Vail Jazz fest||Vail, CO, US|