The difference between Portland and Phoenix can be equated in more ways than comparing inches of rainfall and number of retirees. The sound of the city's jazz festivals are pretty different, as well.
Whereas PDX was pretty hardcore traditional this year, this weekend's PHX-fest is definitely on the smooth tip. That's cool; I dig it all. That's why I've dispatched a photographer to grab some shots this weekend as the AZ Jazz Fest kicks off tomorrow night at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa.
Jazz-infused R&B dude Ne-Yo will serve as the opening night headliner, dispensing what AZJ says will be "elaborately choreographed production showcasing R&B-pop hits from the singer-songwriter-producer accompanied by a splashy army of dancers and backing musicians." Sax players Marian Meadows and Paul Taylor (whose new record landed on my desk this morning) will play Saturday along with two jazz/R&B collectives: Rick Braun will lead the way with Jazz Attack while Jefferey Osbourne and Faith Evans will mix-and-match with some heavy hitters under the name Groove Hypnotic Tour. Grammy-winning legend Patti LaBelle closes things up Saturday.
Highlights on Sunday are shaping up to be sets from the ever-enchanting soul goddess Gladys Knight and singer/songwriter/guitarist Jonathan Butler with closing ceremonies being conducted most funkily by the Isley Brothers.
OK, so no one will be blowing Ornette Coleman sides; it'll still be a groovy weekend. Were I to have a roundtripper myself, I'd be shooting those photos. Come back to see the sights next week and go here for tickets and information.
Photo of Jonathan Butler by Raj Naik (Courtesy of Mack Avenue)