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From there, he would go on to play with and learn from heroes like Illinois Jacquet, Arturo Sandoval and Clark Terry, as well as with Monk, whom he credits with helping him get to another level. “It’s like grad school,” he says. “You have to do the work.” Then again, he says, playing jazz is also like “Delta House – we have fun at what we do.”
Winston Byrd’s CD, Soul Searchin’, – is available at www.winstonbyrd.com and www.cdbaby.com.
Fri., Sept. 23, 7 & 9 p.m., Sedona Creative Life Center
Guitar ace Luis Villegas is no stranger to Sedona, having made a memorable appearance at the Latin Jazz Festival here in May 2002. Inspired as a teen by the scene on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, he cut his teeth on stage with high-energy rock bands. He carried that fire with him as he began to revisit the music he heard at home growing up, mastering Latin rhythms and Spanish guitar. Impressive live performances led to a recording deal in 1998 – his four CDs to date are available at www.luisvillegas. com – and acclaim for his “nuevo flamenco” style. His “Banana Bay” is on the soundtrack of the 1999 David Spade movie Lost and Found, and he made his own big-screen debut as a musician in the 2004 thriller Collateral.
Sat., Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m., Radisson stage
Read the band member biographies on the Spyro Gyra Website, and you get a sense how much music programs like those supported by Jazz on the Rocks can mean. (From left) Julio Hernandez: “I started playing guitar at the age of nine, my father being my first and most influential teacher…by the time I was in high school, [I] was very involved with the school music program.” Ludwig Afonso, taken under wing by a teacher friend of his father’s, played in his middle school jazz band. Jay Beckenstein “was given my first saxophone through the music program in elementary school at age seven.” Tom Schuman, at age 7, “started studying classical piano”; a teacher “arranged for him to play…on a local radio program” at age 11. Scott Ambush played in his school Jazz Ensemble and bass in rock bands with friends from age 12. Those early years have led to a distinguished career now deep into its third decade. Hear the results on their latest CD, The Deep End, which is available at www.spyrogyra.com.