When saxophonist Everette Harp moved to North Scottsdale four years ago, he saw a lack of support for jazz musicians. So, he and longtime friend Randy Jackson are collaborating to bring the inaugural Firebird Music Festival Jazz Night to WestWorld on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Besides Harp, performers include Jeffrey Osborne; Earl Klugh featuring Bob James; Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis Soulphony; Rick Braun and Jazz Funk Soul featuring Jeff Lorber; and Paul Jackson Jr.
Randy Jackson, a former “American Idol” judge, will serve as the host, or as he said, “The hostess with the mostess.”
“This is a great place for a jazz festival,” says Harp, who also has a home in Los Angeles.
“Being here and experiencing the night skies and the views this time of year made me want to bring it here. There’s a vacuum for this type of music here. Phoenix is the sixth-largest city by population in the United States, and there’s one jazz festival per year, if that. It seemed like there was a void.”
Harp and Jackson are the producers, and musicians should reap the benefits, they said. The duo would like Firebird to be one of a series of festivals in the area and around Arizona.
“We have a personal mission, as far as the artists go,” Harp said. “We’re making sure they’re treated with the respect with which we would want to be treated. We’re also learning what normal promoters deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
“Everette and I have been friends for a long time,” Jackson said. “The thing that really intrigued me was the concept of musicians turning into promoters.
“Having done a lot of festivals, we know firsthand it all starts and ends with the music. As a former jazzer myself, this was in my wheelhouses. Music is my game, always, 24/7, even though I’ve done TV and a lot of other stuff. It was easy for us to come up with an ideal situation to make this happen. Phoenix is underserved always.”
If you go
What: Firebird Music Festival Jazz Night
When: 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23
Where: WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road.
Tickets: $45-$150; lawn guests can bring their own chairs or rent one at the festival for $5.