Chandler Jazz Festival History

Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park - Stage Plaza
178 E. Commonwealth Ave
Free Admission

Information on the history of the festival, photos from previous years, newsletter subscriptions, links to bands and local Jazz support groups, and media releases.

Festival History

The Chandler Jazz Festival began in the spring of 2000. Thanks to the influence of Irvin Mayfield, the event has turned its focus to the music of New Orleans and brought Chandler a taste of The Big Easy and Mardis Gras.

The 18th Annual Festival welcomed huge crowds to the festival's Stage Plaza for the two nights of free concerts. Friday Blues Night featured 4 award-winning bands. The show opened with solo musician Eric Ramsey followed by Smokestack Lightning, Sistahs Too, and visiting band from South Dakota, headliner Bob Fahey & Nice 'n Nasty. Saturday night showcased one of the top student bands from ASU, the Alex Price Quintet followed by Los Angeles smooth jazz showman Keith McKelley. Next was virtuoso B3 Organist Royce Murray, and to round up Jazz Night, Alice Tatum band entertained the audience. Saturday afternoon, 5 jazz combos lined the sidewalks in downtown Chandler. Saturday during the dinner hour, jazz bands filled the local restaurants, and both Friday and Saturday after hour's jam sessions were conducted at the Vintage 95.

The 17th Annual Festival welcomed record-breaking crowds to the fest's new location in the Downtown Library Park where the new Downtown Stage is located. This significantly larger venue brought close to 15,000 fans over the two nights of free concerts. Friday Blues Night featured 3 great bands, The Levi Platero Band from Albuquerque, and two of Phoenix's greatest blues bands, Paul Cruize Blues Crew, and the RD Olson Blues Band. Saturday night showcased the 20-piece South Mountain Latin Big Band, the smooth sounds of the Gabriel Mark Hasselbach Quintet, and the ever-popular Grammy-winning band El Chicano. Saturday afternoon, 7 jazz combos lined the sidewalks in downtown Chandler. Saturday during the dinner hour, jazz bands filled the local restaurants, and both Friday and Saturday after hour's jam sessions were conducted at the Vintage 95.

Downtown Chandler was once again swinging with activity during Arizona's largest free jazz event. Great weather and music brought out big crowds filling the park to near capacity for both the second annual Friday night Blues Night plus Saturday's 16th annual Jazz Day. Friday featured 15-year-old phenom Brian Kabala, Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere, Tucson's Bad News Blues Band, and headliner Cold Shott & The Hurricane Horns. Saturday featured 8 main stage performances including national headliner Sean Jones and his Quartet, plus Jazz Con Alma, Stan Sorenson Trio, Neamen Lyles, The New Deal Quintet, and two local big bands. In addition was New Orleans Square again highlighted by the AZ Classic Jazz Society's sponsorship of the 52nd Street Jazz Band.

The 15th Annual Festival featured several new additions. On Friday night, was the fest's first ever, extremely well attended "Blues Night". Three of the finest blues bands in the valley plus one touring group were featured including Hans Olson, Sugar Thieves, Big Nick and the Gila Monsters (complete with their full horn section), and national touring band, the Mike Eldred Trio. Saturday, Jazz Day, featured 8 main stage performances including four national touring bands Donald Harrison Quintet, Richard Johnson Trio, Michael Powers Group, and Dmitri Matheny Group. Another new addition was the popular New Orleans Square stage highlighted by the AZ Classic Jazz Society's presentation of the History of Jazz and Dance.

Downtown Chandler once again showed the Southwest that jazz is very much alive by featuring 31 bands and over 150 musicians in its 14th annual Chandler Jazz Festival. Friday night had a record turnout for the very popular band from Los Angeles, "El Chicano". In keeping with a Latin mood, headliner band Saturday night Marcos Crego and the Cuban Tribe featured 7 musicians bringing authentic Cuban sounds to our valley. Other main stage bands included The Energy Trio, Royce Murray, The Mason Affair, Ira Hill/Evan Rees, Charles Lewis, Fred Forney and Keith McKelley bands. Also featured were two student bands from Willis Jr. HS and the CGCC Big Band. The New Orleans Stage featured the 52nd St. Jazz Band, Dan Reed and the Sun City Stomperz.

The 13th Annual Festival included 32 bands, 175 musicians and an incredible audience turnout. Friday night presented "B-3 Organ Night" with four Hammond B-3 Organ based bands culminating with four organists performing on two vintage B-3s, Papa John DeFrancesco, Royce Murray, Shea Marshall, and Chris Pena. Saturday's headliner, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci wowed the crowd with his awesome lyrical sound and sense of humor. Also featured on the main stage were Big Bands from the Scottsdale and Chandler-Gilbert Community Colleges, The Jazz Militia, Weinkum's Waltz Warriers, Jeremy Siskind with the East Valley Yamaha School presentation, The Jones Jazz Quintet, and Raul Yanez and Zona Libre The New Orleans Music Stage, presented by the Arizona Classic Jazz Society, once again attracted a full house of toe-tapping Dixieland fans.

Downtown Chandler once again hosted an exciting and well attended event, with over 30 bands and 150 jazz musicians, and an audience close to 10,000 strong. Friday night featured the Papa John DeFrancesco Quartet, Fred Forney Quintet, the Higher Ground Army Brass Band and headliner Azucar, a local Latin Jazz/Salsa band that had the audience on their feet. Saturday's headliner, Gabriel Alegria's Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet was a huge crowd pleaser as they introduced Peruvian rhythms to jazz standards and originals. Also featured were the Mike Vax Quintet, Joe Magnarelli, and Pete Pancrazi. The New Orleans Music Stage, presented by the Arizona Classic Jazz Society, attracted numerous Dixieland fans, and will likely be a regular stage in the future.

Downtown Chandler hosted more than 33 bands and 145 jazz musicians for Arizona's most exciting, largest jazz festival held over two days and in a dozen venues. The names might not have been as recognizable as past years, but the talent was amazing, with some of the finest worldwide touring musicians in the current jazz scene, as well as many of the greatest cats living right here in our valley. Friday night featured the Ashlin Parker Quartet, and Nick Manson and the Festival Allstars. The New Orleans-based band Blue Orleans, headlined Saturday night along with the Dmitri Matheny Group and the Brice Winston Quartet. Swing Fever, based in San Francisco, rocked the joint on Saturday afternoon with standards from the '30s and'40s. And the New Orleans Music Stage was a new addition to the festival and was presented by the Arizona Classic Jazz Society in the fountain courtyard of the San Marcos Resort.

The 10th anniversary festival brought back all the original bands from 2000 including the Irvin Mayfield Quintet, the Sun Lakes Big Band, the Chandler Gilbert Community College Big Band, and the Young Sounds of Arizona. Friday night's headliner was the Grammy-winning Cajun/Zydeco band Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet. Total of 35 bands participated in 10 venues. A fest highlight was the return of the after hours jam sessions on both Friday and Saturday nights at the 98 South Wine Bar and Kitchen.

The biggest festival to date was highlighted by a special concert on Saturday night at the Center for the Arts by New Orleans native Dr. John, with an opening performance by the Kenny Garrett Quartet. Main stage performances in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park included Armand Boatman and the Be-Bop Revolution, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Jack Radavich Trio with special guest Chuck Findley, and the 52nd St Jazz Band. The after hours jam session on Saturday night was a huge success at Inspirador.

25 performances plus The Saturday Marketplace featured a variety of artists and vendors. Top notch entertainment include the Rachel Eckroth Quintet, 13-year-old Gabriel Dotson of Chandler, and his band Enough Said, the Jack Radavich Quartet featuring trumpeter Carl Saunders, followed by the dynamic Cuban rhythms of the Chuchito Valdés Quintet. Presented by Big Two Toyota Scion.

Performances, "How Cool is Jazz" and the art fair filled the streets, bars and restaurants of Downtown Chandler, including the Dan Young Trio, Stan Sorenson Duo, Barrio Latino, and the Patrick Smith Quartet Saturday's lineup included the John Vold Duo, Foster Oden Trio, Chandler-Gilbert C.C. Jazz Band, Steve Annibale Quartet and the Aebi-Coulson Band. Presented by Michael A. Pollack Real Estate Investments.

20 performances once again included "How Cool Is Jazz," a fun activity for children of all ages plus the arts and craft fair. The Jazz Fest All-Stars featured Tony Vacca, Aaron Fletcher, Steve Annibale, Mike Kocour and Dom Moio. Other featured performers included the Anthony Brown Quartet, and the Aaron Fletcher Quartet. Presented by first Credit Union.

Featured 20 performances at six downtown venues over two days and nights, with the main stage outdoors in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. Jazz in Az hosted "How Cool is Jazz", a fun activity for children of all ages. There was also an arts & crafts fair (40 vendors), a kid's interactive arts & crafts area, street performers and much more. Featured performers included: Blaise Lantana (from KJZZ); Tony Vacca and Youth All-Stars; The Crotty & O'Neill Sextet; The Diva Concert featuring Delphine Cortez, Nancy Gee, Margo Reed and Sherry Roberson; Dennis Rowland with the Extreme Decibel Band performed a tribute to the legendary Count Basie, honoring his 100th anniversary. Presented by Wells Fargo.

New sponsor Wells Fargo presented headliner Jon Faddis in the San Marcos Pavilion on Friday night. Saturday afternoon featured high school and college bands and another Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday night. The Saturday night concert was a very special tribute to jazz legend Prince Shell with the Ted Goddard Big Band. Sunday was swinging in the park with a swing dance hosted by the Sun Lakes Big Band. In all, 22 bands performed in nine venues.

The festival was again sponsored by Motorola and featured Donald Harrison, Jr., and the Irvin Mayfield Quintet with the main stage in the Pavilion of the San Marcos Resort. Friday night featured the APS VIP reception and jam session poolside at the San Marcos Resort. This year also featured the first ever Mardi-Gras style parade in Downtown Chandler.

Rain did not stop the festival, which was moved inside of the San Marcos Resort. Motorola and AVNET presented featured performers Tony Vacca, Irvin Mayfield and Terence Blanchard.

The inaugural event was presented by Motorola and featured five bands on a Sunday afternoon in the downtown park. Local performers included: Sun Lakes Big Band, Chandler-Gilbert Community College Jazz Band, Young sounds of Arizona, and two touring bands, the Irvin Mayfield Quintet and Los Hombres Calientes, co-led by Bill Summers and Irvin Mayfield.