May Columns

Another Arizona musician, Harold "Hal" Fox, passed away on March 13. His musical partner/wife Connie preceded him in death. Together they were known as The Banjo Sweethearts, playing throughout the Valley of the Sun and the State of Arizona. Hal was 86 years old and is survived by five children, 14 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. I do hope that at least one of his grandkids is learning to play the banjo just as Hal did.

In the Valley, the Swingtime Jazz Band continues its Wednesday night programs at American Legion Post 44, 7145 E. Second St., Scottsdale, Ariz., (480) 941-9053, 6-9 p.m.

The Joe Hopkins Jazz Combo continues its Sunday 6-10 p.m. jam session at Chances Are, 7570 E. Sixth Ave., Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Rags Allen Band is featured at El Chorro, 5550 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, Ariz., (480) 945-5170, 8-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday. Various pianists appear daily starting at 4 p.m.

The Scottsdale Congregational Church, 4425 N. Granite Reef, Scottsdale, presents a Sunday jazz service led by Sandy Champion at 11 a.m., (480) 946-2900.

VFW Post 3513, 7220 E. Wilshire Drive, Scottsdale, (480) 941-9849, features the Havin' Fun Big Band every Wednesday, 7-9 p.m.

Pianist Randall Barnes continues at Avanti, 2728 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix, (602) 956-0900, 7-11 p.m., Thurs.-Fri.-Sat.

LJ's Pizza, 1038 E. Main St., Mesa, (480) 834-9164, features Cheryl Thurston and Friends, 5-7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

The Joe Hopkins Trio plays for the Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at AJ's, San Marcos Crowne Plaza Golf Resort, Chandler, Ariz., (480) 857-4422.

Jack Wells and Friends (ragtime and standards) perform at the X-treme Bean Coffee Shop, Southern and McClintock, Tempe, Ariz., (480) 820-0337, 7-9 p.m. every Monday.

On the second Sunday monthly, jazz is played at the Payson Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St., Payson, Ariz., (480) 785-1278, $5 donation requested.

North of Payson on Route 87 at Fossil Creek Road, a jam session led by Bob Smolenski is held at Strawberry Lodge, 5-8 p.m. Call (928) 476-3333 for details.

Free concerts at the Arizona State University Music Bldg., Tempe, (480) 965-6447, featured the ASU Jazz Repertory Band and Combos on April 17 and the ASU Concert Jazz Band performed April 21.

Good sources for jazz in the State of Arizona are provided by the Tuscon Jazz Society, (520) 908-1265,, Jazz in AZ, (480) 994-0809,, Arizona Classic Jazz Society, (480) 620-3941,, or Ragtyme-Jazztyme Society, (480) 348-3702.

It is not too soon to make your plans to go to Colorado for the 2008 Evergreen Jazz Festival (Jazz In The Rockies), scheduled for July 25-27, (303) 697-5467, Evergreen is about 30 miles west of downtown Denver.

Also, the 30th Annual Summit Jazz 2008 will be held Sept. 26-28 in Denver at the Four Points Sheraton Southeast. This year, featured artists will be the Hot Antic Jazz Band, the great Jim Cullum Jazz Band, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, and our special favorite, the Alan Frederickson Jazz Ensemble. For badges and info, call (866) 883-2288 or (303) 670-8471. For hotel reservations, call (888) 625-5144 or (303) 758-7000. We'll see you there.

Just announced is Sunnie Sutton's Pianorama, to be held Oct. 18-19 at the Marriott City Center, Denver, Colo., and featuring pianists Dick Hyman, Shelly Berg, Rosanno Sportiello and Louis Mazetier. They'll be backed by guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, bassists Jay Leonhart and Chuck Berghofer, and drummers Frank Capp and Jake Hanna. Details from Sunnie Sutton at (303) 838-4240.

Remember to support your local jazz groups. We're the only ones who can keep our traditional and ragtime music alive. You can send news to me at In the meantime, keep jazzin'!

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May 2008 issue | © 2008 The Mississippi Rag

P.O. Box 19068, Minneapolis, MN 55419.