The festival is a benefit with net proceeds going to the Clare Willey Memorial Scholarship Fund and Prescott school music departments, said Vax, who continues to lead and tour with the Kenton Alumni. A special festival feature this year will be a tribute to big bands, featuring former Count Basie vocalist Dennis Rowland, longtime Los Angeles band leader Bill Tole and others, plus the Prescott High School Jazz Ensemble and the Summit Youth Band.
The weekend kicks off with a free outdoor concert at noon Friday, Aug. 27, at Courthouse Plaza in the center of the summer-cool mountain town north of Phoenix. A Meet the Musicians" fund-raising dinner-concert that evening will be in the historic Hassayampa Inn, where Jay Hootie" McShann once performed 25 years ago. On Saturday, Aug. 28, festival-goers have afternoon choices of a concert at the Hassayampa or a dance at St. Michael's Hotel.
A Tribute to Big Bands" will be staged that evening at the Ruth Street Theater, featuring all festival musicians, including former Chicago pianist-vocalist Judy Roberts (now an Arizona resident), Chicago saxophonist Greg Fishman, Los Angeles vocalist Ginger Berglund and trombonist Scott Whitfield, Hobbs, Reggie Thomas, plus Arizona musicians Joel Robin, Tony Vacca, Jack Petersen, Steve Annibale, Frankie and Rosemary Chavez, Ted Sistrunk, Cleve Huff, Denny Garr, Tom Winker and Larry Kantor. The closing event will be a Sunday jazz brunch at the Hassayampa on Aug. 29 featuring the full festival roster. Ticket information is available at 928-771-1268 or e-mail Vaxtrpts@aol.com.
A series of three preview events concludes Saturday night, Aug.14, at the Highlands Center featuring Delphine Cortez-vocals, Vax-trumpet-flugelhorn, Robin-piano, Sistrunk-bass and Huff-drums. The center is at 1375 Walker Road, Prescott (near Lynx Lake), $15 admission, more information at 928-771-1268. The Mike Vax Sextet previously performed in July for the monthly Jazz in AZ party, featuring Petersen-guitar, Tony Vacca-sax, Joel Robin-keys, Ted Sistrunk-bass and Cleve Huff-drums. An earlier event, Howlin' at the Highlands," featured vocalist Rowland plus Vax, Petersen,Winker and Frankie Chavez-drums on July 24 at the Highlands Center.