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Jazz Festival Performers

 Featured Performers' Bios
18th Annual
Chandler Jazz Festival

Friday, March 31 & Saturday, April 1, 2017
    Dr. A.J. Chandler Park - Stage Plaza
178 E. Commonwealth Ave

Free Admission

Featured Performers' Biographical Information

Davell Crawford

The genius of Davell Crawford arises from his ability to play and sing the music of his passion—the music of his life. The New Orleans keyboardist, vocalist, composer and arranger soaked up the surrounding rhythms and harmonies that were his deep musical roots and nurtured his natural talent.
 
Acclaimed as the “Piano Prince of New Orleans,” Crawford brings equal exuberance to both modern and classic jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, blues, gospel, soul, pop, American folk and touches of country western. Growing up in New Orleans and presently residing there and in New York City plus spending many youthful days in Southwest Louisiana, Crawford's influences run the gamut from Fats Domino to Sarah Vaughan, to Patsy Cline and even Liberace. In the tradition of those from the Crescent City who came before him, Crawford also believes in the art of entertainment. He'll get up from the piano, move to the apron of a stage, prance, joke and make folks feel at home.
 
As a child, Crawford attended both Baptist and the Catholic churches. He watched the pipe organist so attentively that when he first sat in front of the impressive instrument he already knew the function of the stops and pedals. The organ at his church was the first he ever played and throughout his life he's continued to man the organ in both church and club settings. The prowess he developed is best
exemplified on his 1998 Rounder Records release, the swinging, soulful and funky, The B-3 & Me. Tellingly, it includes two Ray Charles hits: “I Can't Stop Loving You” and “Hallelujah I Just Love Her So.” At age seven, Crawford, who has often been compared to the great Ray Charles, made his first public appearance playing his favorite tunes from the master on a piano outside of New Orleans' famous coffee stand, Café du Monde. Backed by quintets, big bands and on occasion orchestras, he's also paid tribute to Charles at several outstanding shows around the world. His 2005 tribute to Ray Charles when he assembled some of New Orleans’ finest players to form the Davell Crawford Orchestra, has been noted as "One of The Best Concerts Ever".

At just 10 years old, Crawford made an impression on the New Orleans gospel community by taking on the position of accompanist to the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church choir. By the time he was 11, his talents were utilized by the St. Joseph Baptist Church where he became the youth choir director, pianist and organist to the sanctuary and men’s choruses. Since then Davell has traveled the world conducting choral workshops and making appearances in gospel music. Throughout his career he's also lead a host of award winning gospel ensembles. He chose the 'creme de la cream' of New Orleans gospel vocalists to form The Davell Crawford Singers, whose members are spread from the East to West coasts, while the core members remain in New Orleans. They continue to reunite today and are heard on his latest, gripping CD, My Gift To You, his first on the Basin Street Records label.

Gospel is at the heart of everything that Crawford does. Davell is the godson of the iconic Roberta Flack and the grandson of the great vocalist/pianist/composer James “Sugar Boy” Crawford of “Jock-A-Mo” fame giving reason for the honesty, passion, and ample rhythm and blues that also fills his soul. Crawford can—and has—thrown down all night R&B concerts and parties jumpin' with tunes from the likes of pianists Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, James Booker and Huey “Piano” Smith. Crawford is definitely in that number as he carries the New Orleans piano legacy along with the complete American Roots legacy.

A softer, quieter side of Davell Crawford is revealed when, as heard on his 1999 release, Love Like Yours and Mine, he slips comfortably into his jazz mode on such classics as “Fly Me to the Moon.” His tenderness and informed jazz sensibilities shine with every note when Crawford approaches the standards. Often, he'll be in a trio or quartet setting behind the grand piano or standing at center stage with only the microphone and the trio backing him for an evening of classic or modern jazz.

Then again, he might don a silly wig and an eye patch in honor of the late great James Booker and take the house down by emanating his fellow pianist's eclectic, frequently elegant panache. Crawford is also fully versed in the traditional jazz songbook of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. A fact that will be confirmed if you are lucky enough to experience a performance by Davell Crawford and His Creole Jazz Men of New Orleans. He's also been known to make special rare appearances at the music's landmark, Preservation Hall.

With his immense talent and experience, the pianist and vocalist could have chosen his next release to be in any number of genres. On his latest, meticulously produced album, My Gift To You, Crawford remarkably embraces the full spectrum of his interests and influences as he reaches into his rich bag of resources and natural abilities. On the disc, just as he has throughout the world during his decades-long career, Crawford celebrates his musical roots and becomes their ambassador. As the Prince of New Orleans joyfully expresses on the opening track of My Gift To You: “I am the Creole man, I come from foreign lands to spread the news...” He also expresses, just as momentously, on the closing track, "Louisiana, I love you for all you've given to me, I promise never forget you as I travel o've the stormy sea."

Davell Crawford’s My Gift To You will be released June 11, 2013 on Basin Street Records.
 
Bob Fahey and Nice n' Nasty
Official Website - www.robertfahey.net

Robert Kaleopu'uwai (Bob) Fahey, when not on the road, divides his time between O'ahu Hawai'i & the Black Hills of South Dakota.  He started playing guitar at the age of 12. Bob spent 15 years on the road with various touring rock bands before returning to the Black Hills in 1989 to raise a family. For the next twelve years Bob’s smoldering vocals and searing slide guitar were a driving force behind one of Rapid City’s most popular bands, “The Suspects.” Bob has opened up for various artists including Albert King, The Doobie Brothers, Tommy Bolin, The Allman Brothers, Alice Cooper, Roy Rogers and Little Feat. He has been featured on PBS backing up A.C. Reed. Performing in venues from coffee houses, Fine Arts Centers & Arenas to the World Famous Buffalo Chip Campgroud. He currently spends a great deal of time working with the 5 piece band Nice 'n' Nasty a Blues/Funk group.  He describes his music as “contemporary blues” and has been influenced by such artists as J.J. Cale, Keb Mo', Roy Rogers (Blues Guitarist).Robert Cray, and Robert Johnson. Bob is most notably known as a Blues/Americana Solo Artist. But, he is often working with other players from a duo format to a 9 piece band with horns. One of his favorite groups to perform with is Tres Guitarras. A trio that performs in the Phoenix Arizona area fusing three guitars styles together, Flamenco (Chris Burton Jacome'), Jazz (Stan Sorenson) & Blues (Bob Fahey).  You can also catch him with the always energetic Nice 'N Nast Band with some of what he considers to be the best players anywhere! Bob currently records out of Will Wallers Sanctuary Studio in the Black Hills.

Royce Murray Jazz Ensemble

Royce Murray has had the privilege of writing for the late great BARRY WHITE, sharing the stage with JIMMY SMITH, Jimmy McGriff, Tony Monaco and countless other great B3 Organ virtuosos.. He had the distinct pleasure of playing Amazing Grace at Friendship Baptist Church for Civil Rights leader Pastor MARTIN LUTHER KING when he was just a youngster learning to play the organ! He first learned of JIMMY SMITH when he was 12 and decided that that was the way he wanted to play the organ. He listened to all the great organists. Royce was fortunate in living nearby Jimmy Smith and shared a lot of time together where music ruled. Whether jazz, blues or gospel, it’s Royce’s goal to swing you, groove you, rock you to your core with some music and leave you with a feeling of being taken to a musical level somewhere close to heaven! Joining the Royce Murray ensemble are Tim Robinson on drums, Eric Bart on guitar, and Jermaine Lockhart on sax.
 

Sistahs Too 
Official Website - www.sistahstoo.com
 
Lila Sherman (vocals), and Rochelle Raya (harmonica, vocals and Arizona Blues Hall of Fame member), have been providing deep rooted original blues with a soulful and energetic sound in the southwest region for the last two decades. Original members of the all female blues band “Sistah Blue” and 1996 Internal Blues Challenge 2nd place winners.  These two women continue to deliver outstanding original and soulful blues music. Their latest project, “Sistahs Too” features long time contributors, James Robertson, guitar, slide and steel and Mike Howard, (2016 Arizona Blues Hall of Fame inductee), rhythm and lead guitar. Rounding out the rhythm section is Rocky Heyer, bass and Ricky Lockhart, drums. This group, Sistahs Too are the proud winners of the 2016 Arizona Blues Showdown and will represent Arizona in the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February, 2017.  Sistahs Too have a dedicated fan base and continue to entertain audiences near and far.

Smokestack Lighting

Smokestack Lightning is a band beyond the powers of one person. It takes all four of these men of action to bring out the gut wrenching blues and restless rock ‘n’ roll to the masses of music lovers everywhere. Since they banded together in late 2009, they’ve taken cues from their blues and rock forebears to form an unmistakable sound of pain, triumph, loneliness and joy.  In 2011 Smokestack Lightning released their self-produced debut smash CD, “Soul Left Blind.” With 12 original tunes, “Soul Left Blind” cooks like hot grease from start to finish and the CD comes alive with each member’s talent and charisma. “Soul Left Blind” was nominated for a 2012 Native American Music Award for “Best Blues Recording.” Based in Arizona on the Gila River Indian Community, Smokestack Lightning has traveled beyond the reaches of their reservation and performed before a wide array of audiences at a variety of venues and events.   In 2015 they came in first place in the Arizona Blues Showdown in the band category and second place in 2016.


 
Keith McKelley Project  
Official Website - www.keithmckelleymusic.com
 
Keith McKelley has had a wide and varied career as a saxophonist and EWI (electronic wind instrument) musician but also produces and writes his own material with the occasional collaboration with other writers and producers to create music.


 
 

 
Eric Ramsey 
Official Website - www.ericramsey.net


Eric is a two time winner of the AZ Blues Showdown, a two time performer at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee, featured performer at the Dripping Springs (TX) Songwriters Festival, and has been featured in the Tempe Center for the Arts Songwriters’ Showcase. He performs regularly at Blues and Folk festivals throughout the region and the midwest. He has released two CDs of original music and is currently writing material for a third record.









 
 
Alex Price Quintet 
Alex Price is a nineteen-year-old musician and student currently living in Tempe, Arizona. He has played jazz trumpet for most of his musical career, and is currently focusing on improvisation, composition, and arrangement for jazz. Alex has performed with numerous artists as a trumpet player, including Michelle Coltrane, Mario Abney, Lewis Nash, Michael Kocour, Gordon Goodwin, Wayne Bergeron, Conrad Herwig, Joel Frahm, and Andy Martin. He is currently a student at the Barrett Honors College in Arizona State University, majoring in both Jazz Performance and English. Alex performs in the Arizona State University Concert Jazz Band under the direction of Michael Kocour, as well as ASU’s Latin Jazz Band, directed by Dom Moio, and ASU's Jazz Combo program. In the past, he has performed with the Young Sounds of Arizona 7:00 Big Band as the solo trumpet chair and been a member of Arizona's All State Jazz Band for four years. Alex is influenced by artists such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and more modern groups such as, Christian Scott, Radiohead, Taylor Eigsti, and the SF Jazz Collective. Alex Price is joined on stage by an array of up-and-coming talented student musicians from the Phoenix area: Marcus Leatham on drums, Charles Smith on piano and keyboard, Tyler Bauer on tenor saxophone, and Eric Nakamoto on bass.


Denny Monce Quintet

Denny Monce is currently a free-lance trumpet player in the Phoenix Valley. Having traveled much of the Western Hemisphere playing on cruise ships, he also spent several years studying and playing on the Los Angeles music scene. Over the years, Denny has performed with numerous headlining acts such as Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, and The Temptations. Additionally, he has played for countless off-Broadway musicals.  His passion is jazz music, and given the opportunity, that's where you'll find him, as a leader or a side-man, playing the music he loves. Denny also teaches trumpet, privately, and is on the jazz studies faculty at Arizona State University.
  
 


 
Doc Stewart Quartet

Dr. Chris Stewart now known as “Doc Stewart” once stood at the crossroads of life and opted for a career in medicine over his alto sax. The emergency room is still a happening scene for him at the Mayo Clinic, but his fans are glad he never cut out of the gig. Doc Stewart has kept his chops in shape jamming and recording with big bands and artists like Louis Bellson, Tom Kubis, Matt Catingub, Toni Tennille, Bill Watrous, Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabakin, Woody Herman, Phil Woods, Eric Marienthal, John Patitucci, and others. Jazz critic Leonard Feather writes in the LA Times: “The lead alto saxophonist, Dr. Chris Stewart, practices emergency medicine for a living, but [leads] the reed team flawlessly.”
His roots sink deep into Hard Bop having listened to the alto greats Charlie Parker, Phil Woods, and Jullian “Cannonball” Adderley. He possesses nearly every known recording of Cannonball and Bird. He has transcribed over five hundred of Cannonball’s solos and over a hundred of Bird’s solos and has published with Hal Leonard Music.  This, he says, is where he learns most of what he knows. He recorded “Supersax” arrangements of several Cannonball solos while actually playing Cannonball’s very own alto saxophone heard on Matt Catingub’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Big Band album.  This love affair with Cannonball’s recordings exudes from his playing but clearly he has developed his own contemporary style without ever losing sight of his Be-Bop roots.
 
A regular at the Studio Café in Newport Beach, you could catch the smokin’ Chris Stewart Quartet in the 1970’s & 80’s. Now playing regularly again, Doc Stewart is sounding better than ever. Most recently, he reunited with his Los Angeles childhood musical protégés for a big bad session which produced the CD Code Blue - Grammy nominated in 2015 for best jazz ensemble. The session showcases breath-taking saxophone solis based on Cannonball Adderley solos. He has come a long way since winning the Disneyland High School Talent Showcase.


 
The Lou Vig Band
Official Website - www.louvig.com

Lou Vig of Old Bridge, New Jersey, has played for such well-known musical acts as Frank Dell & The New York Connection,The Pazant Brothers The Manhattans, Chuck Jackson and Melba Moore. The Brooklyn New York native has toured the United States and Canada and has appeared on the popular 1970's musical television show, The Midnight Special. He has also been a regular at the famous Manhattan night spot, The Cotton Club lending his talents to many artist and most recently performed at the famous Iridium Jazz Club in NYC with Nat Aderley Jr. and the legendary Melba Moore.



 
Antonio Jackson

As a graduate from the University of Minnesota, Morris and the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Antonio has strived to create his own style and his own voice. In a world where so many want to sound like everybody else, Antonio strives to sound like no other saxophone player but himself; yet stemming from the influences of artists like Grover Washington Jr., Najee, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, George Howard, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Kenny Garrett, Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson (just to name a few). Coming up as a young musician, Antonio bounced around the smoke-filled jazz clubs of Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles as well as the performance stages of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and Carnegie Hall in New York. He has been blessed through his various ensembles to have opened up for and/or shared the stage with some of the best, including Chaka Khan, Nathan East, Mark Whitfield, The Average White Band, The Roots, RUN DMC, The Pharcyde, The Count Basie Orchestra, the late Red Rodney, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Najee, Regina Belle and others.
 
With the release of his seventh and eighth self-produced studio recordings; ‘Steppin Out’ and his new Soundtrack CD, ‘Chill In The Deep‘, Antonio brings the listener into his current musical journey. While Antonio Jackson has a profound respect and skill for traditional jazz, he takes great pride exploring new musical styles and putting no limitations on the saxophone. It is through that diversity that Antonio has managed to find his voice, which he respectively and simply calls… “antoniojazz”.
 
This rich blend of creativity is heard in all his original music, including his smooth jazz songs like “Sunny Day”, “Santa Monica Drive” and th