30-Year-Old Big Band Kicks Off New Monthly Tradition in Manitou Springs | Pikes Peak Courier


It’s not often that you’ll see more than a few musicians, say five or six at the most, on stage in most concert halls in town.

This is true for the upstairs listening room at Lulu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs.

A quick glance at the calendar lists concerts featuring solo musicians or groups consisting of a couple or three members, suitable for an intimate space that can accommodate around 100 people.






The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs.




So the place might seem a lot more crowded for a recurring show featuring the Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band.






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The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs.




The group has 17 musicians. This includes five trumpeters, five saxophonists, a bass player, a drummer and a pianist.

They will all make themselves comfortable at Lulu’s for shows on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

This is the most recent residence of the group, which was formed in 1990 in Colorado Springs and is one of the only Colorado groups to perform regularly.

Over the years, the group has had to find a new home more than once.






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The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s in Manitou Springs.




He played Thirsty Parrot for years before the downtown Colorado Springs bar closed. He hasn’t played on another date, Johnny’s Navajo Hogan, since two fires broke out there this year.

As Barry Fagin, one of the 17 band members said, it’s good to start a new tradition at Lulu.






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The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s in Manitou Springs.




And it’s good to bring the big band sound to a new place. In case you’ve never heard them, Fagin describes it this way: “We are a great band in our own right which is causing a sensation. “

Inspired by the big bands of the early 1900s, the Springs outfit covers all sections: trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a rhythm section. Each concert offers improvisation and surprises. Sometimes musicians play music they’ve never read before.

It’s a “once in a lifetime musical experience,” said Fagin, an experience where you won’t hear the same song over and over again.

“You hear the music in real time,” he said. “The performer creates spontaneously in a way you’ve never heard before and will never hear again.”






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The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s in Manitou Springs.




Every performer knows this way of creating. The group is made up of career musicians and longtime amateurs who perform free shows for love. Their day jobs range from engineers to professors.

Fagin, a computer science teacher, joined us about seven years ago after taking a long break from his childhood passion for the piano.

He says he learns each time from “certain monster players” in the group.






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The Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band will perform twice a month at Lulu’s in Manitou Springs.




“I am intimidated by their quality,” he said. “It elevates my game. All I want to do is play better next week than this week and I’ll be a happy man.”

When Fagin and his 16 band members are on stage together, they are all happy.

“I have a day job that I really love, but it doesn’t scratch the jazz itch,” he said.

“It’s hard to describe how it gets under your skin. We just want to play because we love it.

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