Originally Published: June 6, 2014 6 a.m.
"One more time," howled Milton De Love Cannon Jr.
The Prescott jazz musician was using a phrase bandleaders often bark out, to repeat part of a song.
The groove Cannon was talking about wasn't an individual song, but this weekend's Juneteenth Jazz Splash Festival. "This is our 16th year," Cannon said. "We run on fumes some times, but by the grace of God, we're still here."
The festival celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 order by President Abraham Lincoln setting free some 4 million slaves.
This is the 16th year that the Prescott Jazz Society has celebrated "freedom day" with jazz, blues and gospel music. Headlining this year's festival are saxophonist Charles McPherson, bassist Harrison Bankhead and pianist/vocalist Ray Brown Jr. - the son of Ella Fitzgerald.
Music will be blasting nearly nonstop throughout the weekend, with performances by the Tommy Dukes Blues Band, Sherry Roberson, Dowell Davis, Charles Lewis, the Miles Dalto Trio, the Foster Oden Trio, and Cannon himself. In addition to organizing events and studying jazz history, Cannon has been playing jazz around Prescott since the early 1990s. He is also the president of the Prescott Jazz Society.
The Prescott Jazz Society's Juneteenth Jazz Splash Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, at Arcosanti. Saturday events are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday's schedule is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Arcosanti is about 40 miles from Prescott, off the Arcosanti Road exit of Interstate 17, near Cordes Junction.
A slight difference in this year's festival is the timing. "This is the first time we haven't done the festival on Father's Day weekend. We were fighting against Tsunami on the Square," Cannon explained, referencing the long-running art festival in Prescott.
"After I changed the dates, then I found out there won't be a Tsunami on the Square!"
The loose competition has ended its run, but by then it was too late for the jazz fest to change its plans for 2014.
Dates aside, Cannon is thrilled to have a highly respected saxophonist on the bill: Charles McPherson, the Charlie Parker disciple who has continued the bebop grooves.
"He spent 12 years with Charlie Mingus, he's become a real icon in the world of jazz," Cannon said. "And he just finished (composing) a jazz ballet."
McPherson, a longtime resident of San Diego, composed "Sweet Synergy Suite," which was recently performed by the San Diego Ballet.
McPherson also did some of the music for the 1988 Charlie Parker movie, "Bird."
In addition to performing, McPherson will be featured in a Juneteenth discussion session.
Cannon said he also is excited to hear Ray Brown Jr., adopted son of Ray Brown and Ella Fitzgerald. Brown, a drummer, started his career as a rocker, before following his parents into jazz.
The Juneteenth Jazz Splash weekend features continuous live music, cabaret shows, artisan vendors, barbecue, dancing, raffles and music clinics.
Admission is $20 at the gate, $10 per person for groups of three or more, $5 for teens / P-Jazz members, and free for kids 12 and younger. VIP backstage passes are available for $45.
For tickets, call 928-237-7908 or visit www.pjazz.org.