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Thu, June 20

Column: A good night of tunes for a good cause

Hear! Hear! Toni Tennille's terrific top-drawer tonality can be yours for the listening at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, in the Ruth Street Theatre on the Prescott High School campus. The popular entertainer will be singing at least a full hour of big band music as part of the Prescott Jazz Summit weekend, and it's shaping up as an evening to remember.

Top-drawer tonality? Yeah, you heard right. "As you know," she told me, "I was very disappointed last year with my concert on the courthouse square. The sound system was woefully inadequate and, because of the dancers surrounding me, I could not see the audience and they couldn't see me. I felt very bad when quite a few people told me they had arrived at the square by 5 p.m. and staked out a spot close to the stage so they could get a good view, only to find out that they couldn't see or hear well at all. Well, this year things will be different. The concert won't be 'free,' but I believe it will be worth the price of the ticket ($25)."

The quality of the upcoming venue is assured because "my long-time symphony and big band conductor, Rusty Higgins, will be here to conduct the show for me," Toni explained. "Our sound will be provided by Sound on Site, an excellent local sound company that more than meets my standards for concert sound." So "everyone in the audience will be able to see and hear perfectly!"

The big band, she pointed out, "will be made up primarily of the fantastic jazz musicians who come to Prescott for the Jazz Summit. I'll be singing songs by Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen and more. My arrangements are by the legendary Sammy Nestico and the terrific young arranger, Matt Catingub. I also plan to do some songs accompanied only by Prescott's own Jack Pederson, who is one of the finest guitarists I have ever heard." And "I'll even be doing a swinging Sammy Nestico big band arrangement of our Captain & Tennille hit, 'Love Will Keep Us Together'."

What's in it for her? Not one thin dime! After all, "I am paid nothing for my concert," she noted. "I do it because the proceeds go to something very close to my heart - music scholarships and music education for young students. But honestly, I also do it because I LOVE to sing with a big band, and I just don't get the opportunity to do so very often."

Prescott is privileged to have as residents such an outgoing and selfless entertainer as Toni and her husband, Daryl Dragon (aka The Captain), who have been happily married since 1974.

Tickets for her concert and for all other Prescott Jazz Summit events are available at the Hassayampa Inn (front desk), the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, local high school students (who receive 35 percent of the tickets they sell for their own music programs), or online at

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