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Arizona Jazz Festival

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Today Phoenix welcomes the 2014 edition of the Arizona Jazz Festival. For three days, a sensational cast of stars that includes Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, the Isley Brothers and Gladys Knight will bring their explosive music at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa.

The Arizona Jazz Festival is one of the events that mark the beginning of the spring festival season in North America. Starting from today, Phoenix’s Arizona Grand Resort & Spa will welcome some of the most in-demand American artists for a weekend of explosive live music and entertainment. The festival will officially kick off at 4 pm with R&B rising star and Berklee College of Music graduate Kevin Ross. Ross is a young promising artists who, after graduating, went straight to collaborate with R&B top names like Jamie Foxx, Usher and Akon. For his vocal and piano skills, Kevin Ross has drawn comparisons to the great Stevie Wonder and was recently name “Best New R&B Artists” by AOL Music.

Eric Darius and Ledisi at Arizona Jazz Festival

Sources: bitmuzic.com, loft965.com

Today, the festival also presents the jazz duo Joe & Eric Darius (6pm), eight-time Grammy Award nominee Ledisi (7:45pm) and Ne-Yo (9:45pm). Eric Darius is a jazz saxophonist and composers known for his style, which blends jazz, R&B, hip-hop and pop. So far, he has released five records – the sixth will be released this summer – and has shared the stage with the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder. Ledisi Anibade Young, simply known as Ledisi, is part of New Orleans’ great pool of singers. For her fantastic work, she has received eight Grammy Award nominations. Ne-Yo is one of the most popular contemporary R&B singers. Since releasing his debut album In My Own Words in 2006, Ne-Yo’s songs have either been US number one hits – like So Sick – or top 10 hits in some of the most important music charts like US Billboard 200. In 2012, Ne-Yo received the Hal David Starlight Award of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, an important award that honors gifted songwriters who are at an apex in their careers and who, with their original songs, are making a significant impact on the music industry.

 

Listen to today’s performers

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Saturday night fever

The Saturday at the Arizona Jazz Festival will kick off with the smooth jazz rhythms of Paul Taylor and Marion Meadows (1 pm). Originally from Denver and now living in Las Vegas, Paul Taylor has released eight records since his debut with On the Horn in 1995. Several R&B vocalists like LaToya London and Regina Belle have asked Taylor to bring the explosive groove of his sax  on stage for a musical collaboration. He also performed as special guest with the jazz band The Rippingtons. When talking about groove and smooth jazz music, Marion Meadows is probably one of the first saxophonists that come to mind. So far, he has released a dozen album, has appeared as guest musician on Merry Arizona 97: Desert Stars Shine at Christmas, and has performed with numerous stars, including Eartha Kitt, The Temptations and Michael Bolton.

 

The smooth jazz invasion at the Arizona Jazz Festival will continue with a show (at 2:30 pm) by three top exponents of the American and British smooth jazz scenes: Euge Groove, Peter White and Rick Braun. Sax ace Euge Groove is an artist with a strong top-40 charts background who, in addition to his solo career, has collaborated with big names like Tower of Power (he replaced Richard Elliot when he decided to pursue a solo career) and Tina Turner, with whom he toured in 2008. Peter White is a British smooth jazz and fusion guitarist known for his 20-year collaboration with Al Stewart, while popular trumpeter Rick Braun is a familiar name to jazz smooth enthusiasts both as a solo performer and as member, alongside Norman Brown and Kirk Whalum, of the band BWB.

At 4:15 pm, Eric Darius will be back as part of a special show, the Hypnotic Groove Tour. Jeffrey Osborne, singer and founder of the funk/R&B group L.T.D., Faith Evans and Rahsaan Patterson, saxophonists Michael Lington and Dominic Amato and trombonist Jeff Bradshaw are all set to turn the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa into a giant dancefloor.

The Saturday night of the Arizona Jazz Festival will end with performances by two special guests: Smokey Robinson (7:45 pm) and Patti LaBelle (9:30 pm). There is nothing that Smokey Robinson has not done. He was the founder and frontman of the Motown vocal group The Miracles, he has been a record producer and served as vice president of the legendary Motown. During his career as an artist, Robinson has released more than 20 records, was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987) and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (1989), was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (solo in 1987 and in 2009 with the Miracles) and was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts (1993). Soprano singer Patti LaBelle has also been one of the most influential artists of the last decades. During the 1970s, LaBelle and her group the Bluebells (they subsequently changed their name to Labelle) released the icon record Lady Marmalade. Due to her musical legacy and influence, the Philadelphia native has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Apollo Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and, like Smokey Robinson, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Music by the Saturday performers of the Arizona Jazz Festival

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 The grand finale

The last day of the Arizona Jazz Festival 2014 will kick off with two American rising stars: saxophonist JWhite (12 pm) and singer Leela James (1:15 pm). The trio comprised of Norman Brown, Jonathan Butler and Swiss pianist Alex Bugnon will follow (3pm). Smooth jazz guitarist Norman Brown is a Grammy Award winner who has often been compared to George Benson, while Jonathan Butler is known for his repertoire of R&B, jazz fusion and worship music. At the Arizona Jazz Festival they will be joined by Montreux-born pianist Alex Bugnon, a two-time Soul Train Music Awards winner with many appearances at the high rankings of pop and top 40 R&B charts.

On Sunday, the festival will also welcome seven-time Grammy Award winner, artist and humanitarian, the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight (4:45 pm) and the explosive performance of Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns (6:30 pm) featuring Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot.

 

The iconic Isley Brothers, one of the most influential bands in popular music, have been selected as final act of the Arizona Jazz Festival 2014. From 8:30 pm, the Phoenix audience will have the opportunity to see one of the most successful groups in music history. During their career, the Isley Brothers have had sixteen albums charted in the Top 40 (thirteen of which have either been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA), four Top 10 singles on the US Billboard chart and received inductions in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Hollywood’s Rockwalk.

Music by Sunday’s performers

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The 2014 edition of the Arizona Jazz Festival is definitely going to be a great one! A rich schedule and plenty of smooth jazz, R&B and soul stars… let the party begin!

 

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Event Details:

Arizona Jazz Festival

March 7th – 9th

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Info: general@arizonajazzfestival.com

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