The 3rd Annual HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival | Jan. 12th – 22nd, 2017


Tucson Jazz Festival

Tucson, AZ (December 2, 2016) —The HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival will present jazz of all genres in historic downtown Tucson Thursday, Jan. 12 until Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. The lineup includes a dozen performances by local and national stars, including NEA Jazz Masters—guitarist and vocalist George Benson and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Tickets, ranging in price from $25 to $97, are available through links on the website

The first weekend features concerts presented by festival partners. UA Presents is kicking off it the festival and its jazz series with saxophonist Kamasi Washington on Thursday, Jan. 12. From a Tucson favorite, Pink Martini, comes vocalist Storm Large presented by Green Room Entertainment at the Fox and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra is bringing in guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli to perform with the orchestra at the Music Hall.

The Festival is, primarily, a downtown event with concerts at the historic Fox and Rialto theatres. A free outdoor Downtown Jazz Fiesta sponsored by Rio Nuevo will be held on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17, with two stages: one featuring local and regional Latin jazz bands and the other featuring smaller jazz ensembles. Bands will also play indoors downtown all day and late into the evening.

The day after the Downtown Jazz Fiesta, clarinetist Anat Cohen and guitarist Howard Alden will perform in a duo setting at Crowder Hall. Pianist Armen Donelian will grace the stage at the Scottish Rite Temple on Wednesday, Jan. 18 and George Benson will take the stage at the Fox on Jan. 19. DeeDee Bridgewater plays on Friday night with her quartet and the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band with guest, drummer Lewis Nash, will open the show. Tower of Power will take over the Rialto Theatre on Saturday night and the final day has a Sunday Dixieland Brunch at the Hilton El Conquistador.

The Tucson Jazz Festival is a great place to go during the winter – the average daytime high temperature during the 2016 festival was 67.1 degrees – the high temperature on the free 2016 MLK Day celebration was a sunny 72 degrees.

The weather and world-class acts bring new winter visitors to town. The inaugural 2015 festival attracted 10,000 people over 13 days – 28% of whom were from outside of the Tucson area, fulfilling Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s vision of a “destination” festival. This year’s festival brought 18,000 people to downtown and 35% of the attendees were from out of town.

“We are so delighted that the festival is drawing a great audience from out of town and that it’s putting Tucson on the jazz map,” said Yvonne Ervin, Executive Director of Jazz in January, the non-profit presenter of the festival. “We’re also pleased to bring other organizations into the festival as presenting partners—collaboration is important to the success of arts in Tucson.”

Jazz in January Board of Directors

Honorary Chair: Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Elliot Glicksman, President
Isaac Rothschild, Vice President
Yvonne Ervin, Secretary & Executive Director
Dan Coleman, Treasurer

Jeff Haskell
Fletcher McCusker
2017 Sponsors
As of 12/2/16

Title Sponsor:
HSL Properties

Gold Sponsors:
Madden Media
Rio Nuevo
Visit Tucson

Silver Sponsors:
Arizona Daily Star
Cox Communications
Elliot Glicksman
KOLD News 13
Nova Home Loans
Rusing Lopez & Lizardi
Sinfonia HealthCare Corp
Tucson Electric Power

Copper Sponsors:
BeachFleischman, PC
Competitive Engineering
Desert Leaf
Edible Baja Arizona
Elliot Glicksman
Hotel Congress
Johnny Gibson’s
Law Office of JoJene Mills
Law Offices of Michael Harwin
MC-Media Group
Mesch Clark & Rothschild
Mister Carwash
Smith & Smith, PC
Stephen Harkins, DDS
Tucson Local Media
Udall Law Firm

Thursday, Jan. 12—Kamasi Washington—Rialto Theatre, 7:30 p.m. , $15-$60, 318 E. Congress St.
Kamasi Washington, saxophonist, is an American jazz musician based in Los Angeles. Born into a musical family, Kamasi began playing saxophone at age 13, later attending the prestigious Hamilton High School of Music followed by UCLA. He has toured and recorded with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Rapahel Saadiq, Kendrick Lamar, Gerald Wilson, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Harvey Mason and Chaka Khan, to name a few. Kamasi released his groundbreaking solo album, The Epic, in May 2015. The 172-minute, triple disc masterpiece, which includes a full string orchestra and full choir, debuted at #1 on several iTunes jazz charts, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Russia and U.K. In addition to composing his own music, Kamasi is part of a west coast musical collective called the West Coast Get Down. He was voted the “Best New Music” on Pitchfork and has also had press in the New York Times, LA Weekly and on NPR.

Presented by UA Presents

Friday, Jan. 13—Storm Large “Stormy Love”— Fox Tucson Theatre, 7:30 p.m. $25-$74, 17 W. Congress St.
Storm Large, vocalist, has been making a name for herself from tours with Pink Martini to the stage of Carnegie Hall singing Kurt Weill with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. But it is with her loyal and fearless band, Le Bonheur, that she has been grabbing audiences by the lapels and refusing to let go. She emerged as a young artist across punk rock stages and into her infamously Googled stint on a rock n’ roll reality series on CBS. Recent engagements include her debut with The New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, The Cincinnati Symphony, The Houston Symphony, and The RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin among others. Her 2012 memoir, Crazy Enough, was named Oprah’s Book of the Week. Storm’s fierce and fiery show includes the American songbook, Broadway tear-jerkers, rock goddess anthems and some of her own gorgeous originals.

Buy Tickets:
Presented by Green Room Entertainment

Friday, Jan. 13—Alex Weitz Album Release Concert — Club Congress, 10:00 p.m. , $35-$45, 11 E. Congress St.
Alex Weitz, saxophonist, composer, and producer lives in Miami FL. He graduated from Catalina High School in 2009 and was in the Tucson Jazz Institute program for five years. He went on to further his studies at the prestigious University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he completed his undergraduate studies in jazz saxophone performance and graduate studies in studio jazz writing. In 2013 he released his first album of original compositions titled Chroma and recorded in the big band for George Benson’s album Inspirations. He participated in the 2014 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center and he has shared the stage with Benny Golson, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, Brian Lynch, Dave Douglas, Dave Liebman, Fred Hersch and Jeff “Tain” Watts. In May 2013, he won the DownBeat Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Jazz Soloist and in 2014 his original “Song for Peace” was featured as the theme song in the documentary Bettan’s Taxi. At his Tucson performance, he’ll release his second CD

Saturday, Jan. 14—John Pizzarelli with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra—TCC Music Hall, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2 p.m. $15-$80, 260 S. Church
John Pizzarelli, guitarist and singer, was hailed by the Boston Globe for “reinvigorating the Great American Songbook and re-popularizing jazz.” The Toronto Star pegged him as “the genial genius of the guitar.” John has expanded his repertoire by including the music of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Lennon-McCartney. He started playing guitar at age 6, following in the tradition of his father, Bucky. He turned to jazz in his late teens after playing in rock bands, and he received an education playing with his father and many jazz greats who would influence his work: Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry and Slam Stewart, among others. His solo recording career started in 1990 with My Blue Heaven on Chesky Records. In 1993, he opened for Frank Sinatra’s international tour and then joined in the celebration for his 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall, bringing down the house singing “I Don’t Know Why I Love You Like I Do.” Pizzarelli’s latest album, Midnight McCartney, has its origins in McCartney’s GRAMMY®-winning 2012 album, Kisses on the Bottom. Pizzarelli played guitar on 10 of the album’s 14 tracks and backed Sir Paul at an iTunes concert at Capitol Records Studios and at the GRAMMY® Awards.

Presented by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra

Monday, Jan. 16—Downtown Jazz Fiesta—Various Downtown Venues, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. FREE, 33 S. Fifth Ave
This daylong celebration of jazz on Martin Luther King Day features two outdoor stages on Fifth Avenue and a half dozen indoor venues, primarily on Congress Street. It’s free and sponsored by Rio Nuevo.

Tuesday, Jan. 17—Anat Cohen and Howard Alden Duo with UA Experiential Ensemble opening, Crowder Hall, 7:30 p.m., $35-$45, 1017 N. Olive Road
Howard Alden, guitarist, was born in Newport Beach, California, in 1958 and began playing the guitar at age 10. In 1979, Howard went east for a summer in Atlantic City with Red Norvo and continued to perform with Red Norvo frequently for several years. Howard has been a Concord Jazz recording artist since the late 1980s. His prolific recorded output as leader, co-leader, and versatile sideman has establishes an artist of consistently astonishing virtuosity and originality. Howard can be heard on the soundtrack to the 1999 Woody Allen movie “Sweet and Lowdown,” starring Sean Penn, who was also nominated for an Academy Award for his role as a legendary jazz guitarist in the ’30s. Howard not only played all the guitar solos, but also coached Mr. Penn on playing the guitar for his role in the film. Howard’s inimitable playing has also been sought out by rock/blues/pop icon, Steve Miller, for recording projects and live appearances.
Anat Cohen, clarinetist, has been voted Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association nine years in a row. She has also topped the Critics and Readers polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she attended the Tel Aviv School for the Arts and the “Thelma Yellin” High School for the Arts; she began clarinet studies at age 12 and played jazz on clarinet for the first time in the Jaffa Conservatory’s Dixieland band. Anat also attended Berklee College of Music where she honed her jazz chops and expanded her musical horizons, developing a deep love and facility for various Latin music styles. Moving to New York in 1999 after graduating from Berklee, Anat spent a decade touring with the all-woman big band, The Diva Jazz Orchestra; she also worked in such Brazilian groups as the Choro Ensemble and Duduka Da Fonseca’s Samba Jazz Quintet. Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard.

Anat Website:
Howard Website:

Wednesday, Jan. 18—Armen Donelian—Scottish Rite Temple, 7:30 p.m. $35-$45, 160 S Scott Ave.
Armen Donelian, pianist/composer, has had an enviable 40-year career. Donelian apprenticed with a series of jazz giants starting in 1975 with Mongo Santamaria, where he presided over the piano chair once filled by Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Two years later, Sonny Rollins recruited him as a sideman for several tours. In the midst of his four-year tenure with Billy Harper’s band, he made his recording debut with 1981’s Stargazer, a trio date with Billy Hart and Eddie Gomez featuring his original compositions. Donelian has consistently explored his Armenian roots in his music and recorded for several labels with the Middle Eastern jazz ensemble Night Ark and he co-produced (with producer George Avakian) Listen to My Heart, a Sony collection of jazz interpretations of Armenian folk songs. Donelian has authored several authoritative texts, including Training the Ear and Whole Notes. This performance is sponsored by the Udall Law Firm.


Thursday, Jan. 19—George Benson—Fox Tucson Theatre with Nayo Jones opening, 7:30 p.m. , $75-$99, 17 W Congress St,
George Benson, guitarist and vocalist, always had the dual role of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer but few might have predicted that striking level of stardom 40 years ago when Benson was a fledgling guitarist working the corner pubs of his native Pittsburgh. Wes Montgomery, one of jazz’s most creative players, who came across Benson early on, urged him to continue his already impressive work. Benson had both the conviction and chops to nip at his hero’s heels; his 1964 debut was released as The New Boss Guitar. It lived up to its title. Benson’s tone was juicy, and his blues solos sparkled with a carefully honed logic. Hooking up with the CTI label in 1970, he was united with many of jazz’s finest instrumentalists. Classic albums, such as Beyond the Blue Horizon, abounded. But after a while different ideas began to flow from Benson’s muse. What happened was Breezin’, the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. The 1976 blockbuster, brought the instrumental title track to jazz radio. “This Masquerade,” which featured the guitarist scatting along with his solo break, was a pop smash. He followed up with many pop hits, including a sultry version of “On Broadway” and the irresistible “Give Me The Night.” The NEA Jazz Master has won ten GRAMMY®s, played around the world, and thrilled many crowds with his playing.


Friday, Jan. 20—Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the TJI Ellington Band with drummer Lewis Nash—Fox Tucson Theatre, 8:00p.m. $28-$36, 17 W. Congress St
Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocalist, has ascended to the upper echelon of singers, putting her unique spin on jazz standards. A fearless voyager, explorer, pioneer and keeper of tradition, and now three-time GRAMMY Award-winner, recently won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee. Throughout the 70’s she performed with such jazz notables as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie. After a foray into the pop world during the 1980s, she relocated to Paris and began to turn her attention back to jazz. Signing with the Universal Music Group as a producer (she produces all her albums), Dee Dee released a series of critically acclaimed titles beginning with Keeping Tradition in 1993. All but one of Dee Dee’s self-produced albums have received GRAMMY nominations. As a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Dee Dee continues to appeal for international solidarity to finance global grassroots projects in the fight against world hunger. Bridgewater is the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Fellows Award with honors to be bestowed at the Kennedy Center in April 2017.

Lewis Nash, drummer, is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists from the masters of the music to the hottest young players of today; he is equally in demand as a clinician and educator. “Rhythm Is My Business” is the title of his debut recording as a leader, and rhythm is a booming business as far as Lewis is concerned. Currently, while he continues to perform and record with a wide variety of artists, Lewis leads several of his own exciting groups, from duo to septet. Outside of his many touring and recording accomplishments, thanks to the sponsorship of Sonor drums, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads and Regal Tip drumsticks, Lewis has become a sought after jazz educator. His lectures, clinics and workshops are as much in demand as his bandstand and studio work. Lewis Nash: Rhythm is indeed his business!

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) 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 recent awards include first place in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival (2012) earning them a spot to perform at the 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. 21—Tower of Power with ArcoIris Sandoval and Lonnie Plaxico—Rialto Theatre, 8 p.m. , $36-$46, 318 E. Congress St
Tower of Power, funk, R&B, soul and jazz band, originally formed as The Motowns in 1968 by members Emilio Castillo (saxophone and vocalist) and Stephan “Doc” Kupka (baritone sax), performed around Berkeley and Oakland, Calif. By 1970, Tower of Power, had grown to include Greg Adams (trumpet/arranger), Mic Gillette (first trumpet), Skip Mesquite (first saxophone), Francis “Rocco” Prestia (bass), Willie Fulton (guitar) and David Garibaldi (drums). East Bay Grease, their first album, debuted in 1970. In ‘72, Tower of Power’s sophomore album, Bump City was released. By this time, the continuously growing band roster had expanded to include Rick Stevens (lead vocalist) and Brent Byars (percussionist/conga/bongo). Tower of Power, the band’s eponymous third album, was released in 1973 peaking at number #15 on the Billboard Pop Album Chart and was certified gold and it produced the Billboard Hot 100 singles “So Very Hard to Go” “This Time It’s Real” and “What Is Hip?” In 2013, Ray Greene joined the band as new lead vocalist. Tower of Power has recorded with artists such as Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart and Dionne Warwick.

Website:, Jan. 22—Dixieland Jazz Brunch with The Road Runners, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Hilton El Conquistador, 10000 N. Oracle Road.

Howe Gelb Solo, 8 p.m. Club Congress, 11 E. Congress St.

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