Out with the old, in with the new? An ode to the iconic Denver jazz club and how Denver use to be.
The closing of El Chapultepec, Denver's iconic jazz club and bar, on December 8, 2020, may have gone quietly into the night for most, but for some, it was pretty hard to take. Affectionately known as the 'Pec amongst live jazz music enthusiasts and long-lived Denver locals, over its almost 40 years of live jazz music, it held the likes of jazz greats like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, the Marsalis brothers, the Tonight Show band, Tony Bennet, and even ZZ Top. It was known for its "greats," but just as important it was known for its new musicians who were just "cutting their teeth."
Co-owner, Anna Diaz, explained "a combination of neighborhood redevelopment, the arrival of Coors Field just a few blocks away in the 1990s, and the coronavirus pandemic all played a role in the demise of the legendary jazz club." The owners had no desire to sell the 'Pec nor have anyone start a GoFundMe page either. They seemed resolved to the idea that "Denver's outgrown us."
Times have changed and for some, sadly, this may be true. But like the old saying goes, "out with the old, in with the new," we'll see if the new is the answer to the historical Denver school house/Jazz club and cantina location. Valentes Corleone, owner of the nearby Beta dance club just down the street, plans to reopen with a new name, Cantina, but with a similar vibe of jazz and restaurant. Details are still being worked out and we anticipate an announcement in April or May on plans for moving forward.
Since 1933, El Chapultepec's legacy may never be matched nor should it be. Sometimes the old remains unique and unrivaled to any copycat. May the spirit of the 'Pec live on at the corner of 19th and Blake, regardless of who and what steps into that historic Denver building.
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