Five Points Jazz Fest Returned to Celebrate Black Music and Heritage

On June 4, Denver saw the return of Five Points Jazz Fest, a day-long celebration of local jazz music, Black culture, fashion and heritage food. Welton Street, which cuts diagonally through the heart of Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood, closed for an all-out street festival featuring four main street stages as well as smaller shows at nearby businesses Spangalang Brewery, The 715 Club, The Roxy Theatre, Cervantes’, Coffee at the Point and Goed Zuur. The event was free to attend.

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Five Points has roots deep in Denver’s Black history. By the 1930s, 75% of Denver’s Black population lived in Five Points. Alongside tense and violent racial realities, music once again acted as a buoy for the neighborhood spirit; a beacon of culture and joy for the vibrant community. Sometimes called the “Harlem of the West,” Five Points was the place to find jazz, R&B and blues, where artists such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, James Brown, BB King and Ray Charles played at The Rossonian, Casino Cabaret (where Cervantes’ is today) and Ex-Servicemen’s Club.

READ: The Black History of Cervantes’ and The Five Points Jazz Scene
Buckner Funken Jazz

Buckner Funken Jazz

At this year’s Five Points Jazz Fest, acts like Buckner Funken Jazz and Tivoli Club Brass Band brought big brass energy, while North High School’s band excitedly played a midday set to a sunny crowd of jazzed parents. By 8 p.m., as the big stages began wrapping up sets, I couldn’t help but notice the party and unadulterated dancing had only just begun. We can only hope that Jazz Fest grows to a two-day event next year, and three-day the following. The upcoming Juneteenth Music Festival will take place in the same location on June 18 and 19.

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All photography by Adrienne Thomas. Check out the full gallery here.