Originally Published: June 15, 2018 6 a.m.
The Prescott Jazz Society is putting on the 20th annual Juneteenth Jazz Festival this weekend as a celebration of freedom, said Jazz Society President Milton Cannon.
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, but it was two years later that the announcement of the abolition of slavery happened in Texas, Cannon said.
“Juneteenth has been going on since 1865,” he said.
This year’s Juneteenth Jazz Splash Festival, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17, at Arcosanti, features clinics and workshops, performances and a Freedom Dance both nights.
The Jazz Ahead Clinics and Workshops are led by Professor Billy McCoy, the program director at The World Stage, an educational and performance art space in Los Angeles. Cannon said it’s something he’s looking forward to.
The clinics and workshops begin at 10 a.m. both days and are followed by a Jazz Splash Juneteenth introduction at 3 p.m. Saturday sees performances by Milt Cannon & Friends of Jazz at 3:30 p.m., Flight 407, which Cannon said is a fusion jazz band, at 5 p.m. and the Freedom Dance at 7 p.m. featuring the Brother to Brother Blues Band out of Sedona.
On Sunday, the introduction is again at 3 p.m. following clinics and workshops that begin at 10 a.m. and the Royce Murray Band performs at 4 p.m., the Milt Cannon Jazz Quartet performs at 5:30 p.m. and the second Freedom Dance is at 7 p.m. featuring Jimmie McElroy and Roscoe Taylor.
Vocalist Freddie Eckstine is the master of ceremonies for both days.
The Friends of Jazz include guitarist Rick Benevitez, bassist Sean Brogan, drummer Les Daniel, pianist Billy McCoy and vocalist Irene Rhodes. Rhodes performed at last year’s Christmas party, Cannon said.
“She blew the house down,” he said. “She has a beautiful voice … a three octave range.”
The Jazz Ahead Clinics and Workshops are $25 per person/day, free for youths 13 to 18 years old and covers all day activities. Admission to performances and the Freedom Dances are $10 per person/day and sleeping rooms are $75 per person/day and includes an all-event pass.
Having the festival be two days is a lot of fun as it makes the whole thing more like a social affair after the day’s activities, Cannon said.
“People get to know each other and kick it around,” he said.
For more information about sleeping rooms, call Cannon at 928-237-2908. For more information about the Jazz Splash Juneteenth Celebration, visit www.pjazz.org.
By Jason Wheeler, follow him on Twitter @PrescottWheels, reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037.