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Howlin’ at the Highlands Concert features jazz music in idyllic setting
Sponsored by Prescott Jazz Summit and Highlands Center

Detroit-born musician Dennis Rowland bringing jazz to the citizens of Russia in 2009.

Detroit-born musician Dennis Rowland bringing jazz to the citizens of Russia in 2009.

A warm evening, a forest setting, and some smooth jazz sounds: This weekend’s Howlin’ at the Highlands Concert promises a mix of all three.

The concert, sponsored by the Prescott Jazz Summit and the Highlands Center for Natural History, will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at the Highland Center’s outdoor amphitheater, 1375 S. Walker Road, Prescott.

Mike Vax, festival director and longtime jazz musician, says the concert series has been going on for 17 years – the past seven at the Highlands Center.

“The acoustics are wonderful,” Vax said of the amphitheater. “The sides are open, but the top is covered. It is a very nice place to perform and play music.”

Headlining the concert will be Dennis Rowland, a jazz vocalist that Vax said is “one of the most loved musicians in the Phoenix area.”

Rowland, who was born and raised in Detroit, first heard the music of the Count Basie Orchestra as a child – an experience that influenced his own music through the years.

Later, Rowland would join Count Basie as a vocalist, touring with the iconic orchestra through the late 1970s and early 1980s. During that time, he shared the stage with singing legends Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett.

“He has literally performed all over the world to sell-out audiences,” a news release from the Prescott Jazz Summit states. “Since his move to Phoenix in 1987, he has become one of the most popular vocalists in the valley as well as here in Prescott.”

Vax notes that Rowland has been the headliner for the Howlin’ at the Highlands for a number of years. “He is a great entertainer,” Vax said, noting that although Rowland suffered a massive stroke in 2012, “He is back to singing beautifully.”

Accompanying Rowland for a portion of the show will be the Prescott Jazz Summit All-Star Combo, a group that has played together for a decade and a half. Along with Vax on trumpet, the combo includes: Tony Vacca on sax, Joel Robin on piano, Selwyn Reams on bass, and Cleve Huff on drums.

Concert organizers are encouraging attendees to bring a “box dinner” to the event, “to enjoy good food and good jazz together in an idyllic setting.”

Tickets are $20 and are available at or by calling Kristy at 928-277-1576 or 484-588-0066. Tickets are also available at the Highlands Center Gift Shop and will be on sale at the concert as well.

This weekend’s concert is the first of the 2017 series, and Vax said at least one more performance is planned. The series leads up to the Aug. 25 to 27 Prescott Jazz Summit – a festival that combines performances from well-known jazz musicians from around the country with an educational component. Information is available at:

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