Sedona’s Jazz on the Rocks festival, celebrating its 24th year with performances around town from Sept. 22-25, improvises around twin themes: Music and education. Proceeds from the weekend of music, revolving around the daylong outdoor festival on Sat., Sept. 24, at Radisson Poco Diablo Resort, go to support music programs for fledgling and advanced students high school age and younger.
The musicians profiled on the following pages, including Friday night’s star Luis Villegas, and the four headliners who take the stage on Saturday – Winston Byrd, Carmen Lundy, Spyro Gyra, and James Moody – all were drawn to music in their school-age years, and each received the support, at schools and at home, that helped them develop their art to the highest level. Their stories underline how programs like Jazz on the Rocks can touch lives.
Early local dividends will be seen in the Saturday performance of the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Youth Band at the Radisson at 10 a.m. Rounding out the festival is a Thursday fund-raiser performance by pianist Michael Leroy at a Sedona private residence; a Saturday evening jam session with the Andy Margolis Trio at the Radisson at 7:30 p.m.; and the Sunday Jazz Brunch, featuring vocalist Tuey Connell, at the Sedona Hilton Resort and Spa at 10:30 a.m.
For tickets or information about the festival’s programs, call 928-282-1985, or see www.sedonajazz.com.
Sat., Sept. 24, 1 p.m., Radisson stage
Opera was Carmen Lundy’s major when she arrived at the University of Miami in the early ‘70s – “I didn’t know much about jazz until my last year of high school,” she recalls. But she quickly made up for lost time. When she graduated, it was with a degree in Studio Music and Jazz, one of the first generation of singers with the opportunity to pursue jazz studies in a university degree program.
While she’s a firm believer in the value of the classroom for serious musicians, Lundy also will tell you one of the most important classrooms is not in the university, but on a stage in front of real audiences. “People who come out of schools with Master’s degrees have a lot of basic information,” she says, “but they also need practical experience. They need a feel for people, to see them dance.”
She can speak from personal experience to that. Her own musical education began with piano lessons at age 6, though “I wasn’t really crazy about learning scales,” she laughs. What did excite her was seeing her mother, vocalist for the Apostolic Singers, inspire an audience. Lundy was singing professionally by high school, and it helped her pay for college. She cites early influences as Dionne Warwick and Roberta Flack, then Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Betty Carter, Carmen Macrae and Barbra Streisand. From all of them and others, she sought to “know and understand what makes a great voice.