The 5th Annual Tucson Jazz Festival is finally here. Let’s take a look at the lineup:
Joey Alexander / Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band with Terell Stafford
January 11, 2019 at 7:30
Fox Theatre Tucson
Joey Alexander, a native of Bali, Indonesia, taught himself to play piano by listening to classic jazz albums his father shared with him. An amateur musician, Joey’s father soon recognized his son’s gift for jazz, as his technique and ability to grasp complicated musical concepts was beyond someone of his years. Due to the lack of jazz education where he lived, Joey began attending jam sessions with senior musicians. From there, his musical intuition flourished, as did his love of playing jazz. In recognition of his talent, UNESCO invited Joey to play solo piano in honor of his jazz idol, Herbie Hancock, who provided early enthusiastic support to Joey’s budding career. The world has taken notice of this phenomenal and exciting pianist with the astonishing technique and soulful sound. Joey has been featured at festivals worldwide including Jakarta’s International Java Jazz Festival and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. With his third studio effort, Eclipse, his most personal statement to date, Joey takes another giant step forward, demonstrating his aptitude as a composer, bandleader and musician, hinting at the many artistic paths open to him in the decades ahead.
The Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Big Band directed by John Black, with assistance by TJI owners Brice Winston and Scott Black, is comprised of high school musicians from the greater Tucson area including Nogales who study at this award-winning community music school. This big band (one of 6 at the TJI), loved for their swinging diverse and energetic big band sounds, is the #1 High School Big Band placing in the top 3 8 years in row including(including last May 2018) of the prestigious national Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Competition Award presided over by Wynton Marsalis. They were named the Best Community Jazz Band in the Annual Student Music Awards in DownBeat Magazine in May 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The Tucson Jazz Institute teaches middle school students on Saturdays and high school students on Sundays. They study jazz improvisation in small group classes (combos) and swing era music in big bands. TJI has about 100 students and gives many children an outlet they would not have otherwise. Over 90% of their graduates get substantial college scholarships. Their alumni attend some of the most prestigious schools in the nation including Julliard, the Manhattan School of Music, The New England Conservatory, Princeton, USC and Swarthmore (many on scholarship) and have gone on to major careers in jazz music.
Special EFX All-Stars / The Groover Quartet
January 12, 2019 at 7:30pm
Fox Tucson Theatre
Co-founded in 1982 by master guitarist Chieli Minucci (pronounced Key-eli Mee-noo-chee) and the late percussionist George Jinda, Special EFX helped pave the road for contemporary jazz in the 80s and continues to set the standard. With over 30 years as torchbearers of innovative music, the latest release from this pioneering group, Deep As The Night, is the latest chapter in the enduring story of Special EFX. Chieli reflects on the band’s longevity: “One of the reasons we have been able to maintain our popularity is because we have evolved over the years. When the band first started we had a heavy world music influence. Later we highlighted more of an acid-jazz sound, as well as some progressive fusion-rock thrown in for good measure. When people hear our music, they can expect to hear a little of everything!” Eric Marienthal is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he studied with the legendary saxophone professor, Joe Viola. He has since gone on to perform in over 75 different countries, recorded 14 solo CDs and has played on hundreds of records, films, television shows and commercial jingles. Violinist Regina Carter, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Genius grant, combines dazzling technical proficiency and profound compositional and improvisational gifts with a fresh, aggressive approach to her instrument and a multicultural perspective, challenging preconceptions regarding the instrument.
Mike LeDonne is a world renowned jazz pianist and Hammond organist. Oscar Peterson named him as one of his favorite pianists of this era. Since moving to New York City in 1978 he has worked with a wide spectrum of Jazz greats from Benny Goodman to Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson and many others. He spent 11 years as pianist and musical director for vibes legend Milt Jackson, and has been working with Benny Golson since 1997.
He formed his organ band “The Groover Quartet” in 2000 for a residency, that has lasted 18 years and counting, at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City. Since then the band has recorded 9 CD’s, several of which went to #1 on the jazz radio charts, and has been performing in festivals and clubs all over the world. Mike was nominated for “Best Keyboards” 2012 by the Jazz Journalists Association and won the Downbeat Critic’s Poll as “Rising Star” on organ that same year. Mike is featured on over 150 recordings and has 20 out under his own name.
Tucson Swings Brightly: The Music of Nelson Riddle
January 13, 2019 at 7:30pm
Fox Tucson Theatre
Reprising an artistically excellent and sold-out show in Crowder Hall this past spring, music director Jeffrey Haskell conducts the Tucson Jazz Collective, an all-star local big band, with the Tucson Jazz Festival Orchestra and vocalists including Ann Hampton Callaway, Katherine Byrnes and Joe Bourne, pianist Angelo Versace and guest trumpeter Terell Stafford on the orchestrations that the great Nelson Riddle created for Ella Fitzgerald (Ella Swings Brightly), Nat King Cole (Mona Lisa), Frank Sinatra (Witchcraft) and Linda Ronstadt (What’s New?). Jeff spent a total of six years as principal conductor for Linda Ronstadt who had done three albums of Riddle arrangements. Fabulous Riddle settings of songs like “Night and Day,” “Lush Life” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” will be unearthed from the Riddle Collection at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music and presented onstage at the historic Fox Theatre for an unforgettable performance.
Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. Voted recently by Broadwayworld.com as “Performer of the Year” Ann is a born entertainer. Her unique singing style blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny. Callaway is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand’s recent CD’s. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll to name a few.
Kathleen Grace with Larry Goldings
January 14, 2019 at 7:30pm
Kathleen Grace is an internationally recognized jazz vocalist, songwriter and educator. She is a member of the jazz faculty at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles where she has directed the CreSCendo vocal jazz ensemble and currently heads the solo vocal jazz combo program. Grace has toured worldwide appearing at venues as varied as the Montreaux Jazz Festival, The Kennedy Center and the SXSW Music Festival. Known as an artist that blurs boundaries between genres, Grace is also a studio performer and most recently appeared with Portugal the Man on the American Music Awards, and will be featured on Jim James’ (My Morning Jacket) solo 2018 album. Her forthcoming release “Tie Me To You” is a collaboration with pianist, keyboardist and songwriter Larry Goldings and features violinist Gabe Witcher (The Punch Brothers) and David Piltch (KD Lang).
Larry Goldings is a Grammy-nominated pianist, keyboardist, composer, and songwriter. Among jazz enthusiasts, Goldings’ organ trio with Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart has been recognized for charting new ground, with synergistic playing and hard-swinging yet thoughtful music. Larry has recorded 18 albums as a leader, hundreds more as a sideman, and has collaborated on a long-term basis with Maceo Parker, Jim Hall, Michael Brecker, and John Scofield. Goldings has been recording and touring with iconic singer-songwriter James Taylor since 2001, and is the featured musician on Taylor’s One Man Band CD/DVD, the culmination of a two year world-wide tour with James and Larry in duet. In 2007, Goldings received a Grammy nomination (Best Instrumental Jazz Album of the Year) for his live album Trio Beyond – Saudades (ECM) with John Scofield and Jack DeJohnette. His compositions have been recorded by Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, John Scofield, Toots Thielemans, Jim Hall, Gaby Moreno, Bill DeMain, Jane Monheit, Spencer Day, Curtis Stigers, Mike Viola, Lea Michele, Sia, and others. The 2014 UK Songwriting contest awarded Larry, along with Dannielle DeAndrea and David Batteau, “Best Song” in the Jazz/Blues category for the composition, “High Dreams.”
UA Studio Jazz Ensemble with special guest Terell Stafford
January 15, 2019 at 7:30pm
Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads. Since the mid-1990’s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Stafford with the Hamilton Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY nominated From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums. Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, and Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP). Stafford is renowned in the jazz world as an educator, performer and leader along with countless award nominations, accolades and associated acts.
Magos Herrera Quartet / Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
January 16, 2019 at 7:30pm
Fox Tucson Theatre
Magos Herrera is a dazzling jazz singer-songwriter, producer and educator with a 20-year career. Born in Mexico City and currently based in New York City, Magos is regarded as one of the most expressive, beautiful voices and most active vocalists in the contemporary Latin American jazz scene. She is best known for her eloquent vocal improvisation and her singular bold style, which embraces elements of contemporary jazz with Latin American melodies and rhythms singing in Spanish, English and Portuguese, in a style that elegantly blends and surpasses language boundaries. Magos’ career has led her to go on stage around the world, including some of the most memorable venues, such as Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Millennium Park, and Teatro de la Ciudad de México and Zocalo in Mexico City. Moreover, Magos has participated in leading world jazz festivals, including Montreal’s International Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Barcelona’s International Jazz Festival, and the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival. In addition to being one of the finest Latin American jazz vocalists, Magos Herrera is well known for championing women’s causes. She currently serves as spokesperson for UN Women, and has taken an active role in the UNITE campaign to end violence against women and “He for She” to promote gender equality.
Maqueque an assembly of all-star Cuban women musicians was envisioned and created by Jane Bunnett. A multiple Juno Award winner, Jane has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the U.S. and Cuba. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards, numerous Juno Awards, received an Order of Canada, The Queens Diamond Jubilee medal and most recently Ontario’s Premiers Award for Excellence. An internationally acclaimed musician, Jane is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been groundbreaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a saxophone player and pianist. As an educator, spokesperson and social activist, she remains unafraid to explore uncharted territory in her quest for excellence!
Asleep at the Wheel
January 17, 2019
Fox Tucson Theatre
Asleep At The Wheel was founded by Ray Benson in Paw Paw, West Virginia 48 years ago. Now based in Austin, the band holds 10 Grammy awards, 20 studio albums and 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. The Grammy Award-winning Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys is the band’s most recent release (2015) and marks their third full-length Bob Wills tribute album. Featuring 22 acclaimed collaborations, the all-star lineup includes legends such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and George Strait and newcomers like the Avett Brothers, Amos Lee, Old Crow Medicine Show and many other fine talents. Asleep at the Wheel is bringing a fresh look, sound and a new album in 2018. With recent additions Katie Shore (fiddle, vocals), Dennis Ludiker (fiddle, mandolin), Connor Forsyth(keyboard, vocals) and Josh Hoag (bass) Asleep at the Wheel’s newest members have given a newfound energy and their own unique style within the band. Asleep at the Wheel veterans David Sanger (drums) Eddie Rivers (steel guitar) and Jay Reynolds (saxophone and clarinet) round out the now eight-piece band. Between those Texas twin fiddles and boogie piano, you can bet you’ll be dancin’ down the aisles and swingin’ all night long when the Wheel rolls into town!
January 18, 2019 at 8pm
Trombone Shorty, born Troy Andrews, was raised in one of New Orleans most musical families. Andrews got his moniker when he picked up his instrument at age four and started playing professionally soon after. By eight, he had his own band and by the time he was in his teens, Andrews was touring with the Neville Brothers. So advanced was he at a young age, a club in the city’s Tremé district was named ‘Trombone Shorts’ in his honor.
Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue have performed all over the world including a performance at the White House in 2014 and with bands The Foo Fighters, Hall & Oats, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Little Big Town. He headlines the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival nearly every year. Trombone Shorty’s horn became his passport that opened the doors to the world. And, trombone in hand, he eagerly walked through them.
He founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to ensure the power of music continues to change the lives of future New Orleans musicians.
Pink Martini with The Tucson Symphony Orchestra *** 2 Nights
January 19th and 20th at 7:30pm
Tucson Music Hall
Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America. Pink Martini made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998 under the direction of Norman Leyden. Since then, the band has gone on to play with more than 50 orchestras around the world, including multiple engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Symphony, and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London. Other appearances include the grand opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, with return sold-out engagements for New Year’s Eve 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2011; two sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall; the opening party of the remodeled Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Governor’s Ball at the 80th Annual Academy Awards in 2008; the opening of the 2008 Sydney Festival in Australia; two sold-out concerts at Paris’ legendary L’Olympia Theatre in 2011; and Paris’ fashion house Lanvin’s 10-year anniversary celebration for designer Alber Elbaz in 2012.
Sheila Jordan and Cameron Brown
January 19, 2019 at 7:30pm
Temple of Music and Art
Sheila Jordan has always thrived in uncharted territory. The NEA Jazz Master came up on the Detroit scene in the 1940s as part of a coterie of young players in thrall to the mercurial genius of Charlie Parker (who championed the young singer). She spent years developing a high-wire improvisational approach unlike anyone else on the scene, and made history with her classic 1963 debut Portrait of Sheila, Blue Note’s first album by a vocalist. The project’s pianoless instrumentation introduced Jordan’s affinity for the most stripped-down settings, particularly on “Dat Dere,” an exquisite bass/vocal duet with Steve Swallow. Over the years she’s created bandstand magic with fellow masters such as trombonist Roswell Rudd, pianist Steve Kuhn, and bassist Harvie S. Returning to the duo format she pioneered with S, Jordan is joined by bass master Cameron Brown, a relationship that dates back to the mid-1970s. After appearing on dozens of albums as a sideman with the likes of George Adams and Don Pullen, Archie Shepp, Connie Crothers, and George Russell, Brown made a late-career recording debut with 2003’s The Hear and Now (OmniTone) featuring his frequent employer, sax legend Dewey Redman.
Bobby McFerrin and Gimme5: Circlesongs
January 20, 2019 at 7:30pm
Fox Tucson Theatre
The ever-surprising vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin is excited to present his new group Gimme5 with audiences around the world. From his trailblazing solo a cappella performances to his inspired collaborations with Chick Corea and Yo-Yo Ma, his iconic global No. 1 hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and his work conducting top-tier orchestras, McFerrin’s calling has always been to connect people through the unlimited possibilities of music. Or, as the Los Angeles Times put it, “Bobby McFerrin’s greatest gift to his audience may be changing them from spectators into celebrants and transforming a concert hall into a playground, a village center, a joyous space.”
The 10-time Grammy-winner’s vocal ensemble Gimme5 is his latest vehicle for channeling the spontaneous adventure and laughter that occurs when folks join together in song—on and off the stage. Gimme5 features Joey Blake, Dave Worm, Rhiannon and Judi Vinar, all trusted veterans of Voicestra, the panoramically gifted 12-member choir that McFerrin founded in the 1980s. With a telepathic rapport and a love for the unknown, they’ll unite in an improvised program based on McFerrin’s sweeping, soulful vocal language: a wide-open, all-embracing space where art music meets pop, jazz meets classical, lyrics meet pure sound, the avant-garde meets the traditional where all the cultures of the world become one.
Gimme5 is based on Circlesinging, a musical practice and philosophy that McFerrin has been honing since he began as a solo a cappella performer, assigning vocal parts to his fans and transforming sold-out houses into impromptu choirs. They will invite you to sing along and join in on a spontaneous adventure fueled by jazz, pop, R&B, classical and world music—or, more accurately, out-of-this-world music—all rolled into one.
Downtown Jazz Fiesta
January 21, 2019 at 11am -10pm
Various Stages Downtown
The Downtown Jazz Fiesta will cap off the festival with 3 stages of free concerts by local musicians on Martin Luther King Day.
The stages are:
The Playground complex, 278 E. Congress St.
The Connect Coworking office space, 33 S. Fifth Ave.
The Main Stage, just west of the Hotel Congress.