As the son of professional musicians, it was only natural that Andy Margolis began pounding on the piano keys at age 5.
"They were in a bar mitzvah and wedding band in Chicago; that’s how they met," Margolis says of his mother and father. "They were both musicians, and throughout their lives, it was very important to express themselves through music."
"We had a really old piano in the house, and I played it and I loved it," he says. Though his parents arranged for him to take piano lessons, Margolis says, "I never rebelled or complained; it just always felt natural to hit the keys."
The 23-year-old Scottsdale resident and Arizona State University student
continues to tickle the keys as a popular local jazz pianist. Margolis and his jazz trio will return to lead the Saturday Night Jam Session at Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Jazz Festival this weekend. Margolis and two ASU graduates — Tempe resident Rob Moore on drums and Chandler resident Justin Brotman on bass — make up the Andy Margolis Trio.
In its 24th year, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks is one of the oldest jazz festivals in the Southwest, and a distinct jazz event for Arizona, says executive director Chris Irish. With entertainment spanning four days, the event attracts nearly 5,000 people. It begins with intimate concerts on Thursday and Friday nights, then an all-day event on Saturday on the grounds of the Rad isson Po co Diablo Resort.
"People bring their blankets, they spread out, they coordinate picnic lunches with their friends," Irish says. "It’s such a relaxing feeling to lay there on the red rocks; you’ve got this jazz music floating over you.
"We showcase lots of styles of jazz, so that we have something for everybody, and we concentrate on highenergy acts."
Last year’s Saturday Night Jam Session featured Margolis and his trio playing to a full house alongside jazz greats T.S. Monk and Winston Byrd. Irish says she expects Margolis to lead another session with the same energy this year.
"(The Margolis Trio) is hosting . . . and then all of the different musicians who have played throughout the day kind of wander in with their horns, or their drumsticks," Irish says.
"The artists just love it because it gives them a chance to hang out with somebody they may have never met until that day, and they create a link through their music."
Margolis was one of the biggest local names last year, and recalls he tried to bring extra energy to the night. "Basically, I was the only local guy that was there, and I felt a big responsibility to show them that local musicians are just as good as the guys from out of town," he says.
Last year, the Margolis Trio released its first CD, "Are You Ready?" with three pieces written by Margolis. "I expected it to be a demo, but it turned out to be a local hit," receiving attention after getting played on KJZZ (91.5 FM), Margolis says.
"Professionally, I hope to continue to make as many contacts as possible, develop my trio through original music and arrangement of newer, fresher music," he says. Margolis also aspires to write music for films.