Originally Published: June 17, 2018 6 a.m.
The Prescott Jazz Society’s 20th annual Juneteenth Jazz Festival continues today, June 17, with more clinics, workshops and performances at Arcosanti, near Cordes Junction at Highway 69 and Interstate 17.
This was actually the first year for the clinics and workshops which occurred prior to performances, said Jazz Society President Milton Cannon.
“The hope is that the Jazz Ahead program, which contains the workshops and the clinics, will catch on to the point where we can come back next year and to those same jazz clinics and jazz workshops,” Cannon said Saturday. “The Jazz Society feels that it’s needed due to the fact that the schools lack the preparation for these kinds of programs.”
If it were up to him, the workshop sand clinics would last a week or a month, but the Prescott Jazz Society decided to start small this year, he said. They were headed by Billy McCoy, a musicologist who is the director of
The World Stage in Los Angeles.
The Jazz Splash itself, which saw performances Saturday by such groups as the Billy McCoy Trio and the Brother to Brother Blues Band, is designed to celebrate freedom, he said, adding that in 1865 when the slaves found out they were free, there was a jubilee that continues to be celebrated called Juneteenth.
Presenter Joyce McCollum noted the historical aspect of Juneteenth and said that it gave the newly freed people the ability to express themselves musically.
For years, African people in America were forbidden to possess a drum, McCollum said. Once they got the drum back, they combined the European classical music and Irish and Scottish folk songs and jigs with introspection and contemplation of their lives to create the blues. Reflections of the happy and exuberant sides of life became swing.
“Jazz was the child of blues and swing,” she said. “It is the only truly American art form that was created in the 20th century.”
There were some schedule changes on Saturday, Cannon said. Freddie Eckstine, who was scheduled to be the master of ceremonies for both days, was unable to be there due to a gig in Las Vegas and Rick Benevitez, the guitarist in Cannon’s Friends of Jazz group, was unable to be there as well for medical reasons, he said. A fusion jazz band known as Flight 407 was scheduled to perform as well but backed out due to a misunderstanding.
For Sunday, the Jazz Ahead clinics and workshops are set to start at 10 a.m. followed by an introduction at 3 p.m. and performances by the Royce Murray Band at 4 p.m., the Milt Cannon Jazz Quartet at 5:30 p.m. and the second Freedom Dance at 7 p.m.
The Jazz Ahead Clinics and Workshops are $25 per person, free for youths 13 to 18 years old and covers all day activities. Admission to performances and the Freedom Dance is $10 per person and includes an all-event pass.
Arcosanti is about 20 miles east of the Prescott tri-city area, on Highway 69. For more information about Juneteenth Jazz Festival, visit www.pjazz.org.