In her first-ever visit to Arizona, Mimi Blais performed two marvelous concerts, Feb. 23-24, in Arizona's Valley of the Sun for the Ragtyme-Jazztyme Society. The first concert was on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the home of Jack and Phyllis Wells in Phoenix, and the second was on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the West Valley Arts Center in Surprise-Sun City. Both concerts were performed to full houses and were marked as the most successful, musically and financially, of the RJS Gatherings.
As we reported previously, jazz vocalist Cheryl Stephens has returned to the Valley of the Sun and is busy performing on special occasions with local groups. On March 30 the Ragtyme - Jazztyme Society presented a Cheryl Stephen's Reunion Bash at their regular monthly Gathering at the Church of the White Spire's Pilgrim Hall Lounge from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The Arizona Classic Dixieland Band, together with several other local musicians who have worked with Cheryl's Vintage Jazz Band, were on hand to back her up.
Ernie Landes and his Sun City Stomperz will perform at the Arizona Classic Jazz Society meeting on April 27 at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort, Chandler, Ariz. Cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members.
April 4-6 are dates for the 9th Annual Chandler Jazz Festival in downtown Chandler, Ariz. For full information on this free festival, contact www.chandleraz.gov/jazz.
The Joe Hopkins Quartet continues its Sunday night gig at Chances Are, 7570 E. 6th. Ave., Scottsdale, Ariz., from 6-10 p.m.
My Swingtime Jazz Quartet is in its fourth year of Wednesday night performances, 6-9 p.m., at the Scottsdale American Legion #44, 7145 E. Second St., just west of Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Don Miller's long running 31st Annual Paradise Valley Jazz Party is coming up on April 26-27 at the Embassy Suites Hotel Phoenix-Scottsdale, 4415 E. Paradise Village Parkway South. As usual, Don will feature 45-minute sets during three sessions starting on Saturday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday night from 8 to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., featuring 20 renowned jazz artists. Individual session badges are available. A weekend badge for reserved cabaret seating is $195 and includes a Sunday lunch. Call (480) 948-7993 or www.ParadiseValleyJazz.com for full information and tickets.
When word came out that "Crazy Ed" had lost his Satisfied Frog western-themed restaurant in Cave Creek, Ariz., over financial concerns, many of the trad musicians of the Valley expressed regrets. Over the years, Crazy Ed had provided employment for them, and the Satisfied Frog was well known as a place to hear good traditional music and order great food at reasonable prices. Thankfully, we are now assured that The Frog will continue under new management. We will report on the continuation of good jazz at this particular venue.
Colorado continues to have some of this writer's favorite festivals, including the Summit Jazz Party 2008, to be held Sept. 26-28 at the Sheraton Denver Southeast Four Points Hotel, 6363 E. Hampton Ave., Denver, Colo., (303) 758-7000 or 1-888-625-5144 for reservations. The all-star musicians this year include The Hot Antic Jazz Band from France; for their 25th appearance, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band; the New Black Eagles Jazz Band; Alan Frederickson's always great Jazz Ensemble; an All-Star group consisting of John Cocuzzi, Anat Cohen, Jerry Krahn, Paul Keller and Joe Ascione, and the Arapahoe High School Dry Creek Dixie Dawgs. What a terrific line-up! All groups will perform each session except the Dawgs, who do their thing on Sunday. Weekend badges are $105 until 7/1/08. Patron's badges are $200. Contact Summit Jazz Foundation at 1-866-883-2288 or (303) 670-8471. We'll look forward to seeing you there.
Till later then, keep jazzin'!