By: Max Rumbaugh
Photo By: Bob Rink
In the Valley of the Sun, Jazz initiated the turnaround of the absence of live performances after fourteen months. Scottsdale led a live music awakening on April 6 with "The Nayo Jones Experience" from New Orleans performing on the Fountain Stage lawn alongside the Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts. Another live performance was held on April 30th, which concluded Jazz Appreciation Month in Scottsdale, with a star-studded Scottsdale Jazz Festival.
Throughout the Pandemic, musicians have hurt. April was a month of a turnaround of the fortunes of several jazz musicians who were invited to perform at these two events. For some, it was the first live booking since the beginning of the pandemic.
The 10th Anniversary of International Jazz Day was celebrated with the Scottsdale Jazz Festival on April 30th, at the Hotel Valley Ho. It was a sell-out crowd that enjoyed a national All-Star Global lineup of great jazz musicians led by Mark Whitfiled from New York, Nayo Jones from New Orleans, Jesse McGuire from Phoenix, and Neamen Lyles from Tucson.
The Scottsdale Jazz festival was an accumulation of 5 years in the making. Due to the pandemic, the producers were not allowed to put on the major event that was originally planned for the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in April 2020. That delay hurt musicians, limited the enjoyment of live music by everyone and is finally over.
The night kicked off with a Jazz Day AZ Summer Sax Explosion led by Smooth Jazz Billboard artists Neamen Llyes, Dan Pinson, and J White playing a melody of top hits.
The one and only Jesse McGuire brought his brand of Trumpet playing, performing some of the great jazz standards.
One of the greatest Jazz Musicians of all time, Mr. George Benson, attended the Festival in time to hear Ms. Nayo Jones from New Orleans. She had opened up for him at the Tucson Jazz Festival a few years ago. For one and a quarter hours she held Mr. Benson and the entire audience spellbound.
The night ended with one of George Benson's protégés, Mark Whitfield, performing his magic with the guitar. Mr. Benson has guided Mark since Mark was 16 years old. Mark has accompanied and played with stars like Quincy Jones, George Duke, and George Benson just to name a few. Mark didn't let the audience down.
"UNESCO created International Jazz Day to share the values of a deeply meaningful musical genre," explained UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. "Today we need jazz more than ever. We need its values, based on human dignity and the fight against racism and all forms of oppression. It is so much more than music, jazz is the kind of bridge builder we need in the world today."
"Our Jazz Day community in Arizona has displayed incredible resilience, creativity, ingenuity and compassion throughout the immense challenges of the past year," said Doc Jones, Executive Director of International Jazz Day AZ Foundation. "While the global pandemic continues to make life difficult for so many around the world, the Jazz musicians seem to have got hit the hardest. This year's festival helped to turn around their fortunes and was dedicated to bringing attention to the need for affordable housing for Jazz Musicians.
The City of Scottsdale, Molina Fine Jewelers, and the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation hosted the festival with strong sponsorship support from Crescent Crown Distributing, Republic National Distributing Company, Arizona Community Fund Foundation, and the Arizona Office of Tourism.
The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation under the direction of Alfredo Molina and Doc Jones has already started planning for the next Scottsdale Jazz Festival with its strategic partners and sponsors on April 30, 2022, held at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. The team is looking forward to welcoming all the guests unable to attend this year due to capacity restraints. For more information on International Jazz Day Foundation and to follow its programs and events throughout the year, visit: JazzDayAZ.com.