First Tucson Jazz Festival will feature Bacharach, Reeves, Cobb, Childs, DeFrancesco, many more

By Patricia Myers

The HSL Tucson Jazz Festival, a 13-day event from Jan. 16-28 will feature national and Arizona musicians, headlined by 86-year-old composer Burt Bacharach, 85-year old drummer and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb, plus four 2015 Grammy-nominated musicians.

Organist Joey DeFrancesco received a Best Jazz Instrumental nomination for Enjoy The View with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonist David Sanborn and drummer Billy Hart. DeFrancesco opens the festival Jan. 16 performing with the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, plus Cobb as guest drummer, and also will perform Jan. 24 with Paloma Recio. Vocalist Dianne Reeves was nominated in the Best Jazz Album category for Beautiful Life. She will perform Jan. 18 as part of the UAPresents series sponsored by the University of Arizona.

Pianist-composer Billy Childs received three Grammy Award nominations in the Jazz Vocal Album, Roots Performance, and Best Arrangement/Instrumental and Vocals categories. He will perform on Jan. 24 as special guest with The Eagles’ composer JD Souther. Robert Glasper was nominated for Best R&B Album for Black Radio 2. The group, performing Jan. 17, also won the R&B Grammy in 2013 for their album, Black Radio.

In addition to multiple paid-admission events, the festival will feature a free day-long outdoor event in downtown Tucson featuring two Latin jazz bands and numerous local musicians on Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Day. Proceeds of the festival will support the Tucson Jazz Society and its educational activities, said organizer Yvonne Ervin, founding executive director of the Tucson Jazz Society. “This is a true family festival, where parents enjoy classic jazz at the Fox Theatre while their children and the young-at-heart can groove to the newest sounds in the clubs,” Ervin said. “Our festival will be promoting ‘Jazz in January’ all month in support of local jazz at restaurants and clubs in the two weeks leading up to the festival. Jazz will be performed in unlikely places, including the ‘Street Car’ (the city’s just-completed one-line rapid transit system).”

The festival will open with Arizona resident DeFrancesco in a quartet with guest drummer, 85-year-old Cobb, renowned for his work on the 1959 Miles Davis album Kind of Blue for Columbia Records. Cobb is the last living member of that sextet with trumpeter Davis, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.

Other concerts will feature Bacharach performing his numerous Grammy-winning hits with an 11-piece band. Also scheduled are The Hot Sardines , pianist Childs with guitarist Souther, Mexican bassist Gabriel Espinosa and German harmonica player-vibraphonist Hendrik Meurkens, guitarist Dave Stryker, vocalist Allan Harris with a tribute to Nat “King” Cole, two former Arizonans who live and perform in New York City, saxophonist Tony Malaby and pianist-vocalist Rachel Eckroth, also pianists Armen Donelian and Angelo Versace and a tribute to Benny Goodman by clarinetist Dave Bennett.

The following is a partial list of performances, locations and prices, the full schedule available at

Jan. 16, 8 pm, Joey DeFrancesco Quartet with Jimmy Cobb-drums, also Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band + alumni + guest Jimmy Cobb-drums, $15-$75, Fox Theatre, 30 N. Church Ave., 85701; Jan.17, 8 pm, Robert Glaspar Experiment, $12.50-$65, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 85701; Jan.18, 7 pm, Dianne Reeves, Fox Theatre, and 9 pm, Dmitri Matheny’s Jazz Noir, $25-$35, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 85701; Jan. 19, 11 am-5 pm, MLK Day Festival, free concerts on outdoor and indoor stages, 33 S. Fifth Ave, 85701: Dry Heat with Jimmy Cobb, George Howard Band, Maneca, Pete Swan Group with Crystal Stark, Rafael Moreno and Descarga, Arizona Roadrunners, Boone Family Band, Diane Van Duerzen and Lisa Otay, Jazz Telephone, Matt Mitchell, Tony Frank Quartet; Jan. 20, 8 pm, pianists Armen Donelian-Angelo Versace, $30-$50, Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St., 85719; Jan. 21, 7:30 pm, Dave Bennett-clarinet, tribute to Benny Goodman+ Jeff Haskell Trio, $8-$35, University of Arizona School of Music, 1017 N. Olive Road, 85719; Jan. 22, 7:30 pm, Latin Jazz Night with Aguamala, $20-$29, Rialto Theatre; Jan. 23, 8 pm, The Hot Sardines, $30-$40, Fox Theatre; Jan.24, 8 pm, JD Souther with guest Billy Childs, $25-$90, Fox Theatre; Jan. 24, 10 pm, Tony Malaby and Paloma Recio, $25-$35, The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress, 85701; Jan. 25, 11 a.m. big band brunch, “Tribute to Frank Sinatra”: Joe Bourne and Big Band Express, $82.50, Westin La Paloma Resort, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive 85718, and 7 pm, Tucson Hard Bop Quintet + Dave Stryker, also Allan Harris Band, “Long Live the King: Nat King Cole Tribute,” $15-$75, Fox Theatre; Jan. 27, 7:30 pm, Rachel Eckroth Trio, $25-$35, The Screening Room; Jan. 28, 7:30 pm, Burt Bacharach + 11-piece band, $45-$122, Fox Theatre.

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