This weekend’s Chandler festival celebrates roots of jazz - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

This weekend’s Chandler festival celebrates roots of jazz

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Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 10:00 am

You may be a bigger fan of jazz than you think. This weekend’s Chandler Jazz Festival could expose you to the genre and get you to embrace your previously unknown fondness for it.

“(Jazz is) definitely something you can attach to immediately without even realizing it,” says festival organizer Hermelinda Llamas. “It’s the basic chords, it’s the basic melodies. It’s something that’s very soothing and something you can connect with whether there’s lyrics or not.”

This year, the 13-year-old festival will go back to the roots of jazz, emphasizing the sounds of the Hammond B-3 Organ, which every band performing Friday night will use in place of a piano. The instrument was a staple for many classic jazz artists but has since become rare, as the Hammond company stopped producing it in 1975.

Friday’s performances will conclude with four Arizona organists — Chris Pena, Shea Marshall, Royce Murray and Papa John DeFrancesco — dueling on B-3s.

“This would be a great introductory course into jazz music,” says Llamas. “As (the musicians) go through the music, they probably will explain the significance of the B-3 Hammond Organ and give a brief history lesson as they go through their music selections.”

The free festival features a dozen indoor and outdoor performance venues, 35 bands and 170 jazz musicians, including 28-year-old New York City-based jazz trumpeter Dominick Farinacci and 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition winner Kris Bowers.

Joel Goldenthal, executive director of Jazz in AZ, says there’s no substitute for hearing jazz live. His nonprofit organization encourages Arizonans to both listen to and play jazz.

“Jazz is arguably the most creative art form,” he says. “It’s all in the moment. Once it’s recorded, it’s almost not even jazz anymore.”

Even if you don’t think you like jazz, Goldenthal bets that you’re probably a fan of one of the many genres influenced by it.

“There are so many styles (that) most of the jazz is quite easy to relate to,” Goldenthal says. “You don’t need a degree from MIT. What appeals to the ear is the bottom line.”

He says the only thing holding people back from embracing jazz is exposure.

An entertainment schedule is available online at www.chandleraz.gov/jazz. Organizers encourage attendees to bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the outdoor performances.

• Preston, a junior studying journalism at Arizona State University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or tribintern@evtrib.com

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