DENNIS ROWLAND

DENNIS ROWLAND

The season will open four months late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tempe-based Lakeshore Music, Inc., is moving forward cautiously with announcement today of an abbreviated six-concert 2020-21 season lineup. 

Opening night is Jan. 23 for the series, which runs through May.

“Difficult times call for bold leadership,” a spokesman said, noting Lakeshore is introducing a live-streaming option for season-subscription buyers. “They won’t even have to leave their recliners if they choose to watch from home rather than venturing to the Tempe Center for the Arts to see the concerts in person.”

Audiences will be limited to 25 percent of normal Tempe Center for the Arts house capacity so that seats can be socially distanced for patrons’ safety.

Lakeshore, which boasts of being “presenter of the finest jazz musicians in the world at TCA,” is selling only a six-show season package this year at $400. They are on sale at lakeshoremusic.org. There will be no single-show ticket sales this season.

Purchase of the season subscription includes a Lakeshore Music face mask and a complimentary cocktail for those who come to the TCA.

Lakeshore’s season typically consists of nine shows, September through May.

The innovative return to live performances places Lakeside at the forefront in the presenting industry in the Valley, its founder believes.

“We are in the vanguard of presenters who will jump-start live music again,” said Woody Wilson, the Tempe resident who founded Lakeshore Music and is its president and executive producer.

 “Zoom and streaming concerts are interim alternatives,” he said. “I love bringing people together for the music at TCA, and I need to get back to it.

“We are not alone. Venues and presenters throughout the world, large and small, are faced with the same realities. When it comes to live performances, everything is an experiment for at least the next year. 

“We’ve survived two global economic meltdowns and a pandemic. After 12 years, I have no intention of stopping any time soon.”

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts.

“It’s a mighty little six-show series,” Wilson said. “As we all know, it has been seven months of live-music lockdown. Somebody has to be first.”

He also noted that besides its musical offerings, Lakeside Music also provides “social occasions where friends meet to catch up and share the experience of live jazz done well. It’s time to come back.”

Lakeshore’s blockbuster opening performance on Jan. 23, 2021 is The Tierney Sutton Band, in a concert entitled “Screenplay,” the group’s latest Grammy-nominated album that is hailed as “an aural Oscar.” The group has garnered nine Grammy nominations in the past 15 years.

On Feb. 20, Lakeshore welcomes Bob Sheppard & the LA Aces. The LA Aces are Larry Koonse on guitar, Josh Nelson on piano, Alex Boneham on bass and Mark Ferber on drums. Sheppard is a versatile super talent who has played with A-list giants Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, the 5th Dimension, Chuck Mangione, Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole.

It also is bringing back Harold López-Nussa in “Te Lo Dije” (“I Told You So”)” on Feb 27. The Cuban pianist was rebooked after his April, 2020, concert was canceled due to the pandemic. López-Nussa’s work reflects the range and richness of Cuban music and its embrace of jazz improvisation. 

His younger brother, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, is on percussion, Julio Cesar Gonzalez on bass and Mayquel Gonzalez on trumpet.

On March 27, American Jazz Hall of Fame pianist and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron and his trio come to Tempe Center for the Arts. 

Barron, 77, has been nominated for nine Grammys and is considered among the most influential mainstream jazz lyrical pianists of his time.

The April 24 performer is Dennis Rowland, who presents Basie Bash with The Young Sounds Orchestra. 

Rowland was the voice of the Count Basie Orchestra from 1977 to 1984 and shared the stage with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett.

The season wraps on May 22 with the Bob Ravenscroft Trio in “A Homage to Bill Evans.” Pianist-keyboardist Ravenscroft cut his teeth in the clubs of Chicago. Max Beckman joins him on bass and Rob Moore on drums for interpretations of songs from The Great American Songbook, works associated with iconic jazz pianist Bill Evans.

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