Friday Lunch Bunch: Celebrating Charles Burrell's 102nd Birthday

Article Contributed by Baur's Listeni… | Published on Monday, September 26, 2022

On September 30th, Dazzle and Purnell Steen & the Five Points Ambassadors are thrilled to present the 'Friday Lunch Bunch: Celebrating Charles Burrell's 102nd Birthday.' Charles will be there as we pay tribute to a man who spent most of his professional life paving the way for Black musicians and personally mentoring many of them throughout the years, including his niece five time GRAMMY (TM) Award-winning soloist Dianne Reeves and his (and Purnell's) cousin, the late, great George Duke.

Charles Burrell fell in love with classical music at the age of twelve when he heard the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 on his crystal radio. He began training as a bass player in his Detroit middle school orchestra. His dedication to his art and his musical ability enabled Charles to become, age 29, the first African-American in the world to be hired under contract by a symphony orchestra, the Denver Symphony Orchestra in 1949, and then the San Francisco Symphony in 1959. Returning to Denver, Charles continued playing with what is now the Colorado Symphony until his retirement in 1999. One of a very few “crossover musicians,” those who added Jazz and Blues to their repertoire, Charlie also became a staple in the Denver Jazz scene starting in the 1950s, regularly performing at Five Points’ famous Rossonian Lounge, among other venues. He has performed with many of the Jazz Greats including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and more. In 2017, Burrell was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

For over 30 years, Purnell Steen and the Five Points Ambassadors has been dedicated to preserving and playing the Jazz and Blues music of Denver’s legendary Five Points neighborhood. You can learn more about them here.

Students and staff from the new Charles Burrell Arts Campus, an Aurora Public School, will also be in attendance to present their namesake with a birthday card made by and signed by the students.

Shhh... other national award-winning musicians may take the stage for a song or two, but that's an unconfirmed rumor.

The Friday Lunch Bunch performs at Dazzle every Friday from 11:00am - 2:00pm. Tickets include music, food, and gratuity.