10 days of world-class jazz swings into Tucson
The second Tucson Jazz Festival kicks off Thursday night, and this year's event looks to be even bigger and better than the 2015 debut.
The 2016 festival will feature 13 performances by a mixture of local and national acts over the course of 10 days: Thursday through next Sunday, Jan. 24.
The events are centered Downtown, with 8 shows taking place on Congress Street: the Fox Theatre and the Rialto Theatre hosting three performances each, and two shows at Club Congress.
Percussionist Poncho Sanchez and The Rad Trads with Arthur Migliazza will both perform at the Fox, which is also hosting opening night featuring the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington band with festival guest of honor National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and saxophonist Jimmy Heath. The Kenny Werner Trio will start the show with a tribute to Erroll Garner’s "Concert by the Sea."
Heath, 89, is a tenor saxophonist who played with such other jazz greats as John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Gil Evans and many more since the 5'3" "Little Bird's" career began in the 1940s.
The Rialto will host guitarist Nir Felder’s quartet and Grammy-winning instrumental fusion band Snarky Puppy the first weekend of the festival, and performances by the Larry Redhouse Trio, vocalist Lizz Wright, guitarist and vocalist King Solomon Hicks, and New Orleans vocalist and trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and his Quintet on the festival's closing weekend.
Club Congress will be hosting a performance by Arthur Vint & Associates, as well as a free show by Haboob (formerly Jazz Telephone.)
Trumpeter Byron Stripling will give two performances of the Sounds of New Orleans Super Pops concert with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra down the road at the TCC Symphony Hall.
In addition, Downtown will be the location of the free MLK Day Jazz Fiesta from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The MLK Stage on the grass where Fifth Avenue meets Toole Avenue will feature five local bands playing Latin jazz and some small local ensembles will play "straight-ahead" jazz on the Connect Stage at 33 S. Fifth Ave. The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., and several downtown restaurants with also have jazz shows that day.
The UA will host two events this year. The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour, an all-star traveling sextet featuring R&B and jazz vocalist Raul Midon, Nicolas Payton on trumpet; Ravi Coltrane on tenor and featuring soprano saxophones; musical director Gerald Clayton on piano; Joe Sanders on bass; and Justin Brown on drums will perform at Centennial Hall. UA's Crowder Hall will present "115 Years of Jazz Piano" with Pianist Jon Weber.
According to Yvonne Ervin, the festival's executive director, the 2015 event had 10,000 attendees, 28 percent of whom were from outside the Tucson area, and had a $1.1 million economic impact.
Planning for the 2017 Tucson Jazz Festival is already underway.