Two-day Jazz Splash in full swing
The Prescott Jazz Society's Juneteenth Jazz Splash is on its second day, having started Saturday, June 13 at Arcosanti.
Celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation, the festival features continuous live music sweeping through the American jazz timeline. Yesterday, the music went through the precursors to jazz, with African drum and dance and gospel choir, along with blues, ragtime and boogie woogie, rhythm & blues, swing jazz and bebop. Today, the festival's music includes Hard Bop, Beyond Bop and fusion jazz.
Prescott Jazz Society President Milton Cannon said that the Juneteenth Jazz Splash has been at Arcosanti for 17 years.
"It gets better every year, I love this spot, it's perfect," Cannon said. "And the time that we choose to do it is a celebration. That celebration involves the Emancipation Proclamation, the act of freeing the slaves."
Cannon said that those slaves contributed to the moral and artistic fabric and facilitated social changes through their activities, noting that they brought with them the seeds of jazz.
And Cannon said that while jazz itself is black and of the black experience, a person doesn't have to be anything specific in order to play it. Rather, he continued, jazz is all over the world, stating that it's probably the "most appreciated export" of America.
While his point was never to be the best player, Cannon said he has always been dedicated to preserving the genre of music celebrated at the festival, particularly jazz itself.
Saturday started off with the roots of jazz, featuring performances by African drum and dance ensemble, Omawale Kawambe and the Particular People's Gospel Choir. Following were performances centered around blues, ragtime and boogie woogie, featuring Jonathan Best, Eric Williams and Billy Mitchell, rhythm & blues, featuring Mitchell, Kirk Kuykendall and Ronnie Rather, swing jazz, with Harold Land Jr., Freddie B, Kuykendall and Cannon and Be-Bop, featuring Royce Murray, Cannon and Rathers.
Joyce McCollum of the gospel choir said that with field shouts, spirituals and church music, faith has been an integral part of the African American experience. She noted the origins of the hymn, "Amazing Grace."
"It was written by John Newton who was the captain of a slave ship," McCollum said. "God touched him, he gave up the slave trade and he wrote the song 'Amazing Grace' based upon African melodies that he had heard. So it has always been a part of the music scene for African Americans."
The musical lineup for Sunday starts off with hard bop, featuring Land Jr. and Kuykdall, Beyond Bop with Rathers and Murray, Fusion Jazz, performed by IMPACT Trio and a Cabaret party with Mitchell, Kuykendall, Freddie B. and Cannon.
In regard to fusion jazz, Cannon stated that there are quite a few derivatives, mixing jazz with other genres.
"It just seems to be infinite now," he said. "But you keep in mind that no matter what they call it, it's got swing."
Follow Jason on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.