Jazz Appreciation Month

As part of Jazz Appreciation Month, several cities including Mesa and Scottsdale will be hosting events to celebrate the lauded genre. (Special to the Progress) 

For over a decade, William “Doc” Jones has devoted his time to ensuring that Arizona joined in recognizing April as Jazz Appreciation Month — a tradition celebrated by nearly 200 countries.

The trumpeter lobbied state legislators to pass HCR 2017 in 2019 recognizing  April 30 as International Jazz Day and proclaiming 2019 as Jazz Appreciation Month in Arizona. He treated lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to a jazz-serenaded lunch break and provided free shows around the Valley.

It was at that moment that Jones saw the power of the music as he witnessed legislators dance with one another and bond over two nonpartisan loves; music and food.

 This year, his efforts have inspired four events over six days throughout April. 

Kicking off a month of celebration beginning April 8 at the Tempe Center for the Arts, Jones will take the stage alongside a cast of musicians that includes Stellar Award winner Reggie Campbell, renowned drummer Fred Boswell Jr., chart-topping saxophonist Neamen Lyles and pastors to pay homage to gospel music, the genre that preceded jazz.

“I've been wanting to do this for a number of years where we have a show that goes back to the roots and shows the evolution from the art form of gospel music and how that evolved into the jazz that came out of New Orleans,” Jones said.

 “We also got 10 pastors together and we will be giving them recognition for helping us in the jazz community to keep jazz alive and introduce dance to the younger musicians.” 

The show will set an early tone for the performances that follow.

Although his bill has been signed into law, Jones plans to entertain lawmakers as well to mark the fourth anniversary of their passage of the bill recognizing Jazz Appreciation Month in Arizona.

The public event April 12 will feature musicians from Arizona State University and bring together local lawmakers as well as the mayors of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Tempe for an afternoon of music, food and entertainment at Civic Space Park in Downtown Phoenix.

Jazz Appreciation Month festivities will then swing over to the Mesa Arts Center in April 23 for a special free event centered around the contributions that women have made to the genre.

On the bill is a star-studded band under the direction of Mary Petrich and featuring a guest appearance by international pianist Nicole Pesce and vocalist Nayo Jones.

  “It's got a full day of women playing this music and we've got some great artists,” Jones said.

The grand finale to the month is  the annual Scottsdale Jazz Festival.

 Historically the festival has been held on International Jazz day April 30, but this year it has been expanded into a two-day festival beginning a day earlier.

  After a sold-out crowd packed last year's Scottsdale Jazz Festival, Jones hopes to ride that momentum into what he is calling the “Super Bowl of Jazz Festivals.” 

 “I'm calling it the Super Bowl of Jazz Festivals because that's how he's built this weekend and what better city to come to the Scottsdale, Arizona?’” Jones said.

The festival will include a robust lineup of jazz musicians that includes an all-star band of students from the Molina School of Jazz at Next Student Academy in downtown Phoenix, Yuko Mabuchi and Mario Abney, and headline acts Jazz Funk Soul and Incognito.

Festival proceeds will be donated to the Molina School of Jazz’s initiative to fund music lessons and instruments for children around the Valley.

Jazz Appreciation Month Festivities

Gospel to Jazz Explosion presented by Doc Jones and Friends

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 8

Where: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

Cost: Tickets start at $25

Info: tempecenterforthearts.com and  jazzdayaz.com


Jazz At Lunch Time

When: 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 12

Where: Civic Space Park Outside Stage, 424 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix

Cost: Free

Info: jazzdayaz.com


Women’s Jazz Summit

When: 3 p.m.  April 23

Where: 1 E. Main Street, Mesa

Cost: Free

Info: mesaartscenter.com and jazzdayaz.com


Scottsdale Jazz Festival

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30

Where: Scottsdale Civic Center, 3939 N. Drinkwater Boulevard, Scottsdale.

Cost: Tickets start at $50

Info: scottsdalejazzfest.org

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