What: Valley's Jazz Divas 10th Anniversary Concert
When:2/1 & 2/2, 7:30PM
Where: Scottsdale, ASU Kerr Cultural Center
Tickets: $24 general, $29 reserved

Valley’s Jazz Divas 10th Anniversary Concert

By Patricia Myers

Valley Jazz Divas - Margo Reed, Nancy Gee, Sherry Roberson and Delphine Cortez

What started out a decade ago as a one-night Jazz in AZ concert has evolved into a much-anticipated annual happening - - the Valley Jazz Divas Concert, starring vocalists Margo Reed, Nancy Gee, Sherry Roberson and Delphine Cortez. The Divas show is part of the Jazz in AZ-Kerr “Jazz in Concert” series made possible by generous support from The Jazzbird Foundation. Concerts take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb.1 and Thursday, Feb. 2 at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale.

The Divas concert is like four sensational concerts for the price of one. Each of the singers has her own unique style, from overall presentation to the way she phrases and feels time. It's a study in contrasts. Whether you are a jazz aficionado, familiar with the traditions of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and other jazz greats carried on by these four divas, or you just love tunes from The Great American Songbook by the likes of the Gershwins, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, you will be thrilled by the repertoire and world-class delivery of Margo, Nancy, Sherry and Delphine.

Margo Reed is widely regarded as the icon of Valley female vocalists, having paved the way for the musical Reed family to relocate here in the mid-’70s from Kankakee, Ill. A recipient of the Jazz in AZ Lifetime Achievement Award, Margo is known for her “in-the-pocket” swing, as well as “love-mushy” ballads, profound message songs and lowdown blues.

Nancy Gee, whose voice has been described as “velvet,” reflects strong Sarah Vaughan influences. She moved to the Valley from Connecticut in the mid-'80s and landed a 16-year-long gig in Mary Elaine's at the new Phoenician Resort. She also sang at the Nucleus Nuance nightclub in Los Angeles, and was chosen to perform a tribute to Sarah Vaughan arranged by Quincy Jones with the 65-piece Southwest Orchestra in L.A.

Sherry Roberson came to the Valley in 1959, and has a long history of club and concert performances in the Valley, as well as stints in Istanbul and Bangkok. Sherry brings a blues orientation to the mix, along with a freight train-like drive and a propensity to “play with time,” moving phrases ahead or behind the beat, as the spirit moves her.

Delphine Cortez is from Indiana, and performed at top clubs on Chicago's famous Rush Street before coming to the Valley in the mid-'80s to cover a gig for Margo. Delphine continued to get booked by top Valley restaurants and clubs and never went back home! Her diverse repertoire and unique arrangements range from standards and bossa novas to captivating jazz interpretations of pop songs.

This has been a once-a-year opportunity to hear these vocalists together in a concert setting. The 10th anniversary of the show is sure to be charged with extra energy and historic significance. Supporting the Divas for this event is the rhythm section of Joel Robin on piano, Bob Lashier on bass and Cleve Huff on drums, plus Jerry Donato on sax.

Tickets are $24 for general admission and $29 for reserved seats, available at the Kerr Box Office, 480-596-2660, and online at jazzinaz.org. Jazz in AZ members may take advantage of a $4 per seat discount. Tickets are available at the ASU Kerr box office, 480-596-2660 (with no service fee), all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.jazzinaz.org.