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Jazz it Up for Cinco de Mayo

By Dave Cooper
additional material by Mariah Fleming

Jazz is in the air all week, with a special performance on Cinco de Mayo eve, when Latin rhythms will fill the air at ASU’s Kerr Cultural Center. Wednesday May 4th at 7:30pm, don't miss the Cinco de Mayo eve presentation of “Jazz con Alma” with Beth Lederman. This lively program of salsa, samba, and Latin jazz is guaranteed to have you on your feet. Look for this extremely versatile quintet to take you on an exotic musical adventure.

Lederman, a well known, superbly talented Arizona jazz and Latin rhythm pianist, will be joined by equally impressive band mates Mike Crotty (horns), Felix Sainz (bass), Emerson Laffey (drums), and Emilio Santiago (percussion). This is the first of three great jazz events slated for this week courtesy of Jazz In AZ, the non profit Valley organization that has helped keep jazz alive and kicking for decades here in the Valley.

Next up, on Thursday May 5th, a unique musical fete featuring Francine Reed, the Valley’s “first lady of song” will be presented by Jazz in AZ. Reed will perform in an intimate setting for a fundraiser at a private home. The party starts at 5:45pm with the first performance at 6:30pm. Valley pianist Joel Robin, Executive Director of Jazz in Az, will accompany Reed for two performances that evening. A $75 minimum donation is required to attend this special event. A special Cinco de Mayo menu of libations and food will be served. RSVP for this very special event no later than Monday, May 2, with Joan at 480-947-6119 or joan@jazzinaz.org.

The exclusive event with Francine Reed is designed to benefit the forthcoming Lewis Nash-Jazz in AZ Community Center, which will be located in downtown Phoenix. Larger donations are encouraged to support the ongoing fundraising effort to build the center. Seating is limited to 70 guests. In a mutual civic endeavor, Phoenix native and world-renowned percussionist Lewis Nash, along with Jazz in AZ, envision the center as a long-standing, multi-purpose venue with an ambiance that invites live performances. Educational programs, workshops and clinics are part of the plan, as well as space for rehearsals and jam sessions, permanent sound systems, high-fidelity audio gear, house instruments and more.

Francine Reed

Veteran performer Francine Reed began her career in Chicago where she grew up. She came to Phoenix in the early 1970's after her sister Margo Reed moved here. Francine began recording and touring with Lyle Lovett in 1985. After she relocated to Atlanta in the 1990s, she released her first solo album, I Want You to Love Me. Reed has received W.C. Handy Artist of the Year and Song of the Year nominations. She was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in 1997. For many years Reed performed to packed jazz and blues clubs in the Valley, gaining a legion of fans.

In the 1980's, Lyle Lovett performed at Mr. Lucky's, a legendary club in Phoenix that is now closed. Lovett met Reed and the two were a sublime musical match. The then little known Lovett plucked Reed out of Arizona and put her on the national stage as his duet partner and background vocalist, with the wildly popular Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. Lovett won a 1990 Grammy Award for the Best Male Country vocalist for the album Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. Reed and Lovett toured together for many years.

Reed's illustrious career has placed her as a supporting act alongside Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Etta James, The Crusaders and other luminaries. Francine Reed is heard on recordings with Delbert McClinton, Roy Orbison and Willie Nelson. Her television appearances have included The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman.

On Saturday May 7th from 7-11pm, Reed brings an additional special Valley performance to Kazimierz World Wine Bar in Scottsdale with The Francine Reed Band. Making it a family affair, beloved Valley jazz icons Margo Reed and brother Michael Reed will join Francine to make this terrific night an even more memorable celebration. The Reed Family was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame in February of this year.

Jazz, an expressive, truly original American art form, weaves a colorful tapestry with its many rhythmic textures and tones. Profound appreciation for this distinctive musical expression sparked the creation of Jazz in AZ. Founded in 1977, Jazz in AZ is a Valley-based nonprofit organization that supports the art of live jazz and cultivates interest in jazz through youth education, scholarship opportunities and community outreach. Jazz in AZ also promotes and hosts some of the most exciting live jazz performances in the Valley of the Sun and the Southwest.

Jazz in AZ enthusiastically presents numerous programs aimed at exposing Valley youth to jazz and educating them about jazz and other music-related activities. Some of these programs include “How Cool is Jazz,” also “Jazz Kids,” “Jazz for Young People,” and “PBS Kids.” Scholarship opportunities are also part of the Jazz in Az commitment to the Phoenix community. Instrument drives are ongoing. And if you teach music, you’re invited to participate and help a child learn how to play.

For ticket information on these events and to learn more about the many entertaining events presented by Jazz in AZ visit www.jazzinaz.org.