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December 20, 2014

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It’s good therapy: Evenings of jazz

Nova, a quartet, fills Hilton’s Tempo Lounge with music to chill out by on Thursdays

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Leila Navidi

Nova’s founder and bassist Carlos Elorza calls the Tempo Lounge “a special venue. It’s like you’re in our living room.” Nova entertains with several styles of jazz at Group Therapy Thursdays at the Hilton, where, a spokesman says, there is a strong commitment to live music.

IF YOU GO

What: Group Therapy Thursdays with Nova

When: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays

Where: Tempo Lounge, Las Vegas Hilton

Admission: Free

Also: Sin City Heat, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Thursdays, Shimmer Cabaret, Las Vegas Hilton

Beyond the Sun

An alien sound wafts over the clang of the slots, the buzz at the blackjack tables and the cheers from the sports bettors.

Jazz.

In the corner of a trendy lounge tucked between the showroom and the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, a four-piece combo cuts a groove.

Every Thursday, Tempo Lounge becomes home to the quartet Nova. The Hilton bills it as Group Therapy Thursday, an evening to chill out and listen to some good music in a pleasant setting.

“It’s retro. It goes back to the way it used to be in the ’50s,” says Carlos Elorza, Nova’s founder and bassist. “It’s a unique way of doing things now. “No other property stands behind a jazz trio or quartet the way the Hilton does.”

The tunes drifting out over the felt tables include Al Jarreau, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and the Yellowjackets.

“Then Rachel (Leslie) and I may start singing Andrea Bocelli,” says Elorza, whose group also includes drummer John Torres and keyboardist Joe Spraker.

“We do different styles of jazz, from easy listening to jazz with an edge. We’ll even do some R&B. This is a convention hotel. The idea of the show is to be able to cater to just about every demographic out there, not just the jazz people.”

Tempo is a place for the diverse crowd to kick back.

“It’s a special venue,” Elorza says. “It’s intimate, like you’re in our living room. That’s why it’s called Group Therapy Thursdays — it’s close knit, fans can relate to what we’re doing here.”

Elorza, a native of Mexico who came to the United States ’80s and to Las Vegas seven years ago, has roots in rock.

“But as you progress in life you have more of an ear to listen to a little more detail in music and start to realize there is more to it than three rock ’n’ roll chords,” he says. “I have been fortunate to play with some amazing musicians — from straight Latin to rock ’n’ roll to techno and funkadelic styles. Now I’m to the place to where I am experiencing jazz firsthand.”

Nova performed for corporate events before finding an exclusive home at Tempo.

Many Strip resorts are opting for DJs in lounges or turning them into poker rooms. But the Hilton is bucking the trend.

Colony Capital bought the Las Vegas Hilton in 2004, and the new owner stressed a desire to continue the strong tradition of live entertainment at the casino known for Elvis Presley’s performances. That commitment to live music remains, Hilton spokesman Ira David Sternberg said.

Across the room in the Shimmer Cabaret, the high-energy rock and R&B group Sin City Heat (formerly Sunset Strip) performs along with “Menopause the Musical” and a comedic variety show by the Scintas.

On Fridays and Saturdays, Tempo features the pop duo Llynda More and Mark Gendel, and there’s entertainment by the pool.

Barry Manilow is the regular entertainer in the main showroom. But recent headliners have included comedian George Lopez, ventriloquist Terry Fator, crooner Tony Bennett and country stars Brooks & Dunn and Gretchen Wilson. Muay Thai boxing takes over the showroom Saturday.

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