Tucson – Civil rights’ martyr Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a big fan of jazz music. He was friends with jazz celebrities of his era such as Lionel Hampton, Nina Simone, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. The Tucson Jazz Society will host its second annual MLK Day Downtown Jazz Fiesta on Jan. 18, the national celebration of the Noble Peace Prize winners’ birthday.
This free daylong event is part of the city’s two-year-old nationally recognized HL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival, which starts Jan. 14 and runs to Jan. 24 with jazz performances across town. Monday’s event gets underway at two locations in downtown at 11 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. The event will be hosted on two stages on Fifth Avenue in the East Congress Street area of downtown’s east end. The Connect stage, which will feature Nossa Bossa Nova as its opening act, will be located at 33 S. Fifth Avenue, which is just south of East Congress. Famed Tucson based jazz vocalist Joe Bourne and his friends will take to the Connect Stage at 12:30 p.m. After a 2 p.m. performance by Tucson jazz icon Jeff Haskell and Katherine Byrnes and Jason Carder, entertainment at the Connect Stage will wrap up for the day with a performance by the University of Arizona’s Studio Jazz Ensemble at 3:30.
The MLK Stage, the main stage for the Jazz Fest, will feature the Tucson Mariachi Band as its opening act. This stage will be located in the MLK Block on North Fifth Ave between East Congress and North Toole Ave. The Lo Bros will appear at the MLK Stage at 11:30, followed by De Pedro and Special Guest at 2:15, and Orkestra Mendoza closing the show at 3:30.
Downtown Tucson will be awash with the sound jazz on MLK Day.
The Screening Room Cinema at the 127 E. Congress Street, the Playground Nightclub at 278 E. Congress, Maynard’s Restaurant at 400 N. Toole Ave, and Elliot’s Restaurant at 135 Congress will also feature jazz performances at various times on Monday, Jan. 18.
More Festival Dates: The Tucson Jazz Festival will feature several significant performances. Jimmy Heath with the award winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, and the Kenny Werner Trio will appear Jan 14 at the Fox Theatre; trumpeter Bryon Stripling will appear with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Jan. 16 and 17 at the Tucson Music Hall; also on Jan. 17 members of the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour will perform at the UofA’s Centennial Hall; Latin jazz great Poncho Sanchez and La Voz De Tres, led by Mike Eckroth will perform Jan. 21 at the Fox Theatre; renown vocalist Liz Wright and Larry Redhouse Trio will perform Jan. 23 at Rialto Theatre; also New Orleans’ trumpeter and vocalist Kemit Ruffin, and guitarist and vocalist King Solomon Hicks will appear Jan. 24 at the Rialto.
For additional information about the Tucson Jazz Festival and for a complete schedule of performances visit the event’s web site at tucsonjazzfestival.org.