Tucson Jazz Festival Lineup

Here is a breakdown of all of the concerts happening during the 2018 Tucson Jazz Fest.

Thursday, Jan. 11, Hypnotic Brass Rialto Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

HYPNOTIC BRASS is a seven-piece, Chicago-based brass ensemble consisting of the sons of the jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran of Earth, Wind and Fire fame. Together, they have toured throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa & South America playing with everyone from Prince, Mos Def, Mick Jones (The Clash) and Damon Albam (Blur, Gorillaz). They’ve performed Coachella, WOMAD AU, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Their song “War” was featured in the blockbuster hit movie, The Hunger Games.  And now, for the first time, they’re touring the US. Don’t miss the “Bad Boys of Jazz” as they bring their distinctive blend of traditional jazz, hip hop, reggae & rock. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble was born in the south side of Chicago in the early 1990s as the Phil Cohran Youth Ensemble. Dissolving due to the hardships of growing up, the band reformed in 1999 as Hypnotic Brass and has since been blowing the minds of its audiences all around the world.

Get Tickets:  http://uapresents.org/hypnotic-brass-ensemble

Friday, Jan. 12, The Hot Sardines Fox Tucson Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

THE HOT SARDINESfueled by the belief that classic jazz feeds the heart and soul, are on a mission to make old sounds new again and prove that joyful music can bring people together in a disconnected world. In the last two years, the Hot Sardines have been featured at the Newport and Montreal jazz festivals, have sold out NYC venues from Joe’s Pub to Bowery Ballroom and more than 150 tour dates from Chicago to London, and have released two albums on Universal Music Classics to critical raves. In the talented hands of the New York-based ensemble, music first made famous decades ago comes alive through their brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano melodies, and vocals from a chanteuse who transports listeners to a different era with the mere lilt of her voice. On French Fries & Champagne, their new album, the jazz collective broadens its already impressive palette, combining covers and originals as they effortlessly channel New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls. Bandleader Evan Palazzo and lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol met in 2007 after they both answered a Craigslist ad about a jazz jam session above a Manhattan noodle shop. The Hot Sardines’ self-titled debut album, named by iTunes as one of the best jazz albums of 2014, spent more than a year on the Billboard Jazz Chart, debuting in the Top 10 alongside Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Get Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2CMm0Xz


ROBBIE LEE, PIANISTwas born and raised in Tucson, began playing alto saxophone at age 12, later switching to piano. Soon after, he joined the Tucson Jazz Institute, a community music program dedicated to giving students opportunities to play and develop meaningful relationships through music. With TJI he was given a firm grounding in the traditional forms of jazz from traditional to post-bop and was encouraged to develop his own voice and keep an open mind. By age 14, Robbie had begun performing at various venues on a weekly basis. In both 2010 and 2014 he was given opportunities to tour and play at numerous jazz festivals in Europe with TJI including Jazz a Vienne and the Umbria and Montreux jazz festival. Throughout high school, Lee was given awards for performance and composition by YoungArts, DownBeat, The Next Generation Jazz Festival and the Essentially Ellington Competition. These awards include Outstanding Tripler and the Ella Fitzgerald outstanding soloist award presented by Wynton Marsalis at the Essentially Ellington Festival. In 2015 Downbeat magazine awarded him Outstanding Composition for Large Ensemble as part of the 38th Student Music Awards. He has had the honor of playing with Brice Winston, Charles McPherson, Ray Drummond, Candido Camero, and Jimmy Heath. Robbie currently studies at the Manhattan School of Music, in his final year of the undergraduate program.

Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 and Sunday Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. Arturo Sandoval and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, TCC Music Hall

ARTURO SANDOVAL, TRUMPETER, was born in Artemisa, Cuba, in 1949.  A protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, he began studying classical trumpet at the age of 12 and has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn. Arturo has been awarded ten Grammys, and been nominated 19 times; he has also received six Billboard Awards, an Emmy Award and the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was a founding member of the Grammy award-winning group Irakere, which Arturo left in 1981 to form his own band, with which he has garnered enthusiastic praise all over the world. Arturo is also a renowned classical musician, pianist and composer. He has performed with the foremost orchestras domestically and abroad, composed his own “Concerto for Trumpet & Orchestra,” and recorded John Williams’ Trumpet Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. Arturo’s versatility can be heard on recordings with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Josh Groban, Bill Conti and Stan Getz, to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys, amongst many others. He has performed with the Boston Pops, and in the Super Bowl with Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle.

Get Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2qPDUXO

Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Trumpeter Matt Holman Group with Ben Monder, guitar; Matt Clohesy ,bass; Mark Ferber, drums, Club Congress

MATT HOLMAN, TRUMPETER, hailed by the New York Times as a “conscientious” and “perceptive young trumpeter,” and by the great Fred Hersch as “a creative and thoughtful improviser with a world-class sound,” trumpeter Matt Holman has distinguished himself as a composer, conductor, bandleader and top-tier soloist in many of the leading jazz ensembles. Along with his adventurous chamber-jazz recordings, Holman has performed and/or recorded with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Hersch’s Leaves of Grass, Bang on a Can’s Asphalt Orchestra, New York Voice and more. Matt grew up in Tucson and went to Canyon Del Oro High School and received a scholarship award from the Tucson Jazz Society. Matt has composed and arranged works for Stefon Harris, Jane Monheit, Marvin Stamm and university ensembles worldwide. Matt’s 2013 debut When Flooded, an ambitious and evocative project with his five-piece Diversion Ensemble, was awarded four stars by Down Beat. His 2017 follow-up, The Tenth Muse, finds contemporary relevance in the ancient Greek love poetry of Sappho. Matt has earned numerous awards including the International Trumpet Guild’s Jazz Improvisation Competition, the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, and the BMI Foundation’s 13th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize/Manny Albam Commission. An emerging scholar, he received the Institute of Jazz Studies’ Morroe Berger-Benny Carter Jazz Research Fellowship to research Jimmy Giuffre. Holman served as Artistic Director of New York Youth Symphony Jazz for six seasons and teaches as adjunct faculty at Manhattan School of Music and Hunter College.

Get Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2mjZNcZ

Sunday, Jan. 14, 5 to 7 p.m. Doc Jones Band with guest Neamen Lyles, Main Gate Square. FREE!

Sunday, Jan. 14, Grammy-winning percussionist and vocalist, Sheila E., Rialto Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

SHEILA E., PERCUSSIONIST/SINGER, was born Sheila Cecelia Escovedo in Oakland Calif.. Sheila’s youth testifies to her love of music, from performing with her dad, percussionist Pete Escovedo, at the age of 5, to playing in a local band during high school, to touring with her uncle Coke Escovedo’s group Azteca in Colombia as a teen. Growing up, Sheila was introduced to all types of sound by her musical family members and family friends (her godfather was Latin star Tito Puente). Early in her career, Sheila met Prince, and after singing on his hit “Erotic City,” the two worked together to produce her first album. The title track on The Glamorous Life, made the U.S. Top 10, and the entire album, which combined Latin, jazz, R&B, pop and rock, reached number 28 on the U.S. Billboard 200. A musical powerhouse, Sheila has worked with some of the most influential acts of the past five decades: Ringo Starr, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and more. She’s recorded seven solo albums, acted in several films and pursued philanthropic projects that are near to her heart.

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2EpuyDO

Monday, Jan. 15 Downtown Jazz Fiesta, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Free jazz on 4 stages all over downtown Tucson

Rio Nuevo Stage: Toole Street & Fifth Avenue

11:00 a.m. Jovert (steel drum ensemble)
12:15 p.m. Bad News Blues Band with Heather Hardy
2:00 p.m. Zona Libre
3:45 p.m. Descarga

Connect Coworking Stage: 33 South Fifth Avenue

11:30 a.m. Gracie Jessop
12.45 p.m. Connie Brannock
2:00 p.m. Jazz Pyramid Scheme
3:30 p.m. Phil Davis Band

Playground Stage: 278 East Congress Street

12-1 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. Cass Preston

Hotel Congress Courtyard Stage: 311 East Congress Street

5-7 p.m. Arizona Roadrunners

Sponsored by Long Realty

Tuesday, Jan. 16 Vibraphonist Warren Wolf and the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble, UA Crowder Hall, 7:30 p.m.

WARREN WOLF, MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST, is from Baltimore, MD. Warren began training at the age of three on the Vibraphone/Marimba, Drums and Piano, under the guidance of his father, Warren Wolf Sr. Warren attended Peabody Preparatory, Baltimore School for the Arts, and Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied with Caribbean Jazz vibraphonist Dave Samuels and vibist Ed Saindon. After graduating from Berklee in 2001, Warren became an active musician in Boston’s local scene. He was hired in 2003 as a percussion instructor at Berklee and is currently the drummer of choice for alto saxophonist Tia Fuller, who tours with renowned pop star Beyoncé. Warren is also a member of the Donal Fox Group, and tours and perform with Bobby Watson’s “Live and Learn” Sextet, Karriem Riggin’s “Virtuoso Experience” and Christian McBride & “Inside Straight.” Warren’s first two records, Incredible Jazz Vibes and Black Wolf, are on the M&I label based in Japan. He also has a self-produced CD, titled RAW, and a recording under Warren “Chano Pozo” Wolf, where he performs on the vibraphone, drums/Fender Rhodes and piano. Warren has played or recorded with a tremendous variety of artists including Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Jeremy Pelt and “Creation,” Nicholas Payton, Tim Warfield, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash, Willie Jones, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, David “Fathead” Newman, Stefon Harris, Kevin Eubanks, Ron Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding and many others.

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2Dd2OD2


Wednesday, Jan. 17 Saxophonist Lew Tabackin Trio, Scottish Rite Temple, 7:30 p.m.

LEW TABACKIN, FLUTIST AND TENOR SAXOPHONIST, is an artist of astonishing vision. His electrifying flute playing is at once virtuosic, primordial, cross-cultural, and passionate. His distinctive tenor sax style includes the use of wide intervals, abrupt changes of mood and tempo, and purposeful fervor, all in the service of showing the full range of possibilities of his instrument – melodically, rhythmically, and dynamically. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to New York City after his Army service in 1965. A few years later he married Toshiko Akiyoshi and moved to Los Angeles, where they formed the award-winning big band known as the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. In 1982 they returned to NYC, and Since then he has solidified his position as a major tenor saxophone and flute artist, both in live concerts and on recordings. In 1990 Lew released his first disc for Concord, Desert Lady, featuring Hank Jones, followed by the acclaimed I’ll Be Seeing You. Lew has also been associated with George Wein’s Newport All-Star Band, the New York Jazz Giants, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. He continues to tour the world as a soloist, playing clubs and jazz festivals with his own groups. He is joined by Boris Koslov on bass and Mark Taylor, drums.

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2DdVFmd


Thursday, Jan. 18 Diane Schuur Quartet Featuring Ernie Watts/Bill Charlap Trio: “Somewhere” Fox Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

DIANE SCHUUR, VOCALIST is as eclectic as she is brilliant. Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1953, Diane was blinded as an infant. Gifted with perfect pitch, she initially taught herself piano by ear. Nicknamed Deedles as a child, she grew up surrounded by the world of jazz embraced by both of her parents: Her father was an amateur pianist, and her mother kept a formidable collection of Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington albums. Not surprisingly, Dinah Washington is often listed as Diane’s major vocal influence, and she learned the iconic singer’s “What a Difference a Day Makes” while she was still a toddler. She also developed her own rich, resonant vocal style at a very young age. With a distinguished recording career that spans three decades, including two Grammy awards (Timeless and Diane Schuur and The Count Basie Orchestra), as well as three Grammy nominations, Diane’s music has explored almost every corner of the 20th Century musical landscape. Her musical collaborations include Barry Manilow, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Jose Feliciano. These collaborations have resulted in numerous #1 Billboard Chart recordings, including Pure Schuur and Heart to Heart with B.B. King; Ms. Diane has appeared on PBS and many other television specials including Sesame Street. Diane has been invited to perform at The White House on multiple occasions and continues to tour and perform extensively at major concert halls and venues around the world.

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2ErBQqG


BILL CHARLAP, PIANIST, has performed with many of the leading artists of our time including Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, Wynton Marsalis, Freddy Cole and Houston Person. Born in New York City, Bill began playing the piano at age 3. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap, whose credits include Peter Pan, and his mother is singer Sandy Stewart, who toured with Benny Goodman, and was a regular on the Perry Como show. In 2005, Bill and Sandy released the acclaimed CD, Love Is Here To Stay (Blue Note).  In 1997 Bill formed his trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. In 2000, he was signed to Blue Note Records and received two Grammy Award nominations, for Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein and The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard. He is known for his interpretations of American popular song. In 2016, Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining, The Songs of Jerome Kern, was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. In April, the Bill Charlap Trio released Notes from New York, their debut recording for the Impulse label. He has produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Chicago Symphony Center and the Hollywood Bowl. Bill is married to renowned jazz pianist and composer Renee Rosnes, and the two artists often collaborate in a duo piano setting. In 2010 Bill and Renee released Double Portrait (Blue Note). Bill is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.

Friday, Jan. 19 The Mingus Dynasty “Tijuana Moods” and the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band with guests Dennis Rowland and Lew Tabackin; Fox Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

THE MINGUS DYNASTYa nimble and expert ensemble, was the first band Sue Mingus organized after her husband Charles Mingus’ death in 1979. Although big bands like the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey bands had continued to perform after their leader passed on, a similar legacy never existed for smaller ensembles. Because Mingus always said he was first and foremost a composer, and because he left behind over 300 compositions that deserved to be played, a band carrying on his music became a natural, if unanticipated, mission. For the sake of authenticity, the first Dynasty bands were expected to include only musicians who had actually performed with Mingus—except for the bass player of course. Today, nearly 40 years later, the rich legacy of Mingus music ignites the bandstand while new generations of musicians—many of them not even alive during the composer’s lifetime—add their individual voices and continue to interpret and build on his compositions. The band comprises Abraham Burton, tenor saxophone; Alex Sipiagin, trumpet; Ku-umba Frank Lacy, trombone; Helen Sung, piano; Boris Kozlov, bass and Donald Edwards, drums.

Get Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2qMynRM

Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, directed by Doug Tidaback, comprises high school musicians from southern Arizona who study at this award-winning community music school. This big band (one of six at the TJI), loved for their swinging, diverse and energetic big band sounds, was the #1 High School Big Band winner two years in a row (2013 and 2014) and in 2017 of the prestigious national Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Competition presided over by Wynton Marsalis. They were in the top three in 2015 and 2016. Other awards include first place in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival earning them a spot to perform at the 2012 festival and they were named the Best Community Jazz Band in the 35th Annual Student Music Awards in DownBeat magazine in 2012 and 2013. Their alumni attend some of the most prestigious schools in the nation (many on scholarship) including Julliard, the Manhattan School of Music, The New England Conservatory, Princeton, USC and Swarthmore and have gone on to major careers in jazz music.

Saturday, Jan. 20 Spyro Gyra, Rialto Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

SPYRO GYRA is an unlikely story of a group with humble beginnings in Buffalo, NY who has continued to reach an international audience over 40 years, resulting in sales of over 10 million albums and having played over 5,000 shows on six continents. They have accomplished this due to a forward looking approach combined with the work ethic of an underdog, always challenging themselves to do something new while never resting on past success. It has proven to be a recipe for longevity for this jazz group while music has gone in and out of styles in ever shorter cycles.  Spyro Gyra are contemporary jazz icons who observed their 40th year as a band in 2014 with shows that showcased their breakthrough Morning Dance album. After that year of looking back, they decided to spend 2015 concentrating on their more recent material, playing many songs from their post 2000 releases. The audience reaction was so positive to their recent material that bandleader Jay Beckenstein decided that their albums from that period deserved a little more focus. So, in order to spotlight this innovative and productive period, Spyro Gyra released The Best Of The Heads Up Years in 2016. They released their last, their 30th, album of new material The Rhinebeck Sessions in 2013, which JazzTimes called “inspired.” Travis Rogers of the Jazz Journalists Association picked it for Jazz Album Of The Year. Something Else Reviews called it “Their finest album since their early 80s heyday” and made it a TopTwenty pick for the year. George Harris of the Jazz Weekly enthused, “I gotta tell ya, these guys still sound GREAT.” “My hope is that our music has the same effect on the audience that it does on me,” says group leader Jay Beckenstein. “I’ve always felt that music, and particularly instrumental music, has this non-literal quality that lets people travel to a place where there are no words. Whether it’s touching their emotions or connecting them to something that reminds them of something much bigger than themselves, there’s this beauty in music that’s not connected to sentences. It’s very transportive. I would hope that when people hear our music or come to see us, they’re able to share that with us.”

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2qMyZH5 


Sunday, Jan. 21 Johnny Gibsons Jazz Brunch with Jeff Haskell, Jason Carder and Brice Winston 10 a.m.-2 p.m. No Cover charge.

Sunday, Jan. 21 Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and bassist/vocalist Jay Leonhart, Club Congress, 7:30 p.m.

Wycliffe Gordon, trombonist, was born a musician’s son in Waynesboro, Georgia. He began playing music at age 12, drawn early to jazz by an extensive record collection bequeathed to his family. Wycliffe hard-swinging, straight-ahead style earned him Downbeat’s Critics Choice Award for Best Trombone (2016, 2012-2014), as well as their Rising Star Award for Tuba (2014). Named Trombonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association nine times since 2001, Wycliffe tours regularly as a soloist and leads the Wycliffe Gordon Quartet. He has recorded 20 solo albums and eight co-leader albums including Hello PopsA Tribute to Louis Armstrong and Dreams of New Orleans. Wycliffe has been featured on the Kennedy Center Jazz series and his work has been celebrated extensively via radio, television and film, including Wycliffe’s appearance as a soloist in Ken Burns’ documentary, Jazz. A composer and arranger, Wycliffe’s work is frequently commissioned: his arrangement of NPR’s All Things Considered theme is heard daily worldwide and he received the ASCAP Plus Award in 2016 and 2015 for his contributions as a composer. He has authored three educational books and is a dedicated instructor, having served as a resident at numerous institutions, and, formerly, as a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music.

Buy Tickets:  http://tucsonne.ws/2CXPSDt

Jay Leonhart, bassist and vocalist, has been recognized as a very accomplished bass player for a long time now. He has been named the Outstanding Bassist in the Recording Industry three times and is always mentioned when the discussion turns to the outstanding. At age 13, while playing banjo with his brother in a Dixieland band in Baltimore, Jay watched and listened to the bass player and knew that the bass was the instrument he would play forever. Since that time Jay has been privileged to play with the likes of Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Buddy Rich, Jim Hall, Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Marian McPartland, Kenny Barron, Sting, James Taylor, Papa Joe Jones, Roy Eldridge, Jim Hall, Louie Bellson, Dick Hyman, Luciano Pavarotti and many more. Over the years, Jay Leonhart has been writing and singing his own very individualistic songs about his life as a bass player. He now performs his music worldwide to very receptive audiences.  Jay now appears primarily with his trio, which plays regularly at Birdland in New York, when not gainfully employed elsewhere.