36th Annual Paradise Valley Jazz Party in Arizona, March 23-24

Top national and regional musicians will perform at weekend jazz party

The 36th annual Paradise Valley Jazz Party, one of the longest running jazz events in the world, will feature top-level musicians from across the nation to Arizona on March 23-24. The weekend party was started in 1978 by Don Z. Miller (now 81 years old) and his late wife, Sue. During the past 35 years, the events have featured hundreds of the most legendary jazz artists in the world.

Miller said, “The 30- and 45-minutes sets by an “A-team” of national and regional jazz musicians in changing combinations results in exciting jam sessions.” Reserved seating is at cocktail tables in the Sonoran Ballroom of the Scottsdale Hilton Resort, 6333 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale AZ 85250. Tickets are $100 for both days, or $55 per daily session. For more information and hotel reservations, go to paradisevalleyjazz.com or call 480-948-7993.

Performing Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. will be the trio of pianist Shelly Berg, bassist John Clayton and drummer Akira Tana, also saxophonist Houston Person, trumpeter Warren Vaché, trombonist Harry Watters, flutist Joe Corral.guitarists Bruce Forman and Stan Sorenson, and pianists Michael Kocour and Beth Lederman.

The Sunday sets from 1 to 6 p.m. will open with the Arizona State University Jazz Band and then again feature Berg, Clayton, Tana, Person, Vaché, Forman and Kocour. There also will be performances by Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Eric Schneider on sax and clarinet, bassists Dwight Kilian and Chris Finet, pianist Nick Manson, drummer John Lewis and 18-year-old multi-instrumentalist Max Goldschmid, who won three awards in Downbeat magazine’s 2012 student jazz musicians competition.

The party’s annual tradition of celebrating a guest of honor continues, and this year it is Michael Kocour, director of the jazz studies program at Arizona State University since 2004. He will join the honor roster that has included Joe Williams, Milt Hinton. Pee Wee Erwin, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and many more.

Kocour is a solo pianist and accompanist who formerly headed the jazz studies program at Northwestern University in Illinois. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Harris, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan, Carl Fontana, Dewey Redman, Lew Tabackin, and the Chicago Symphony. His recorded work as a studio musician includes soundtracks to two major motion pictures, and numerous television commercials. He has eight works published by Warner Brothers, which include collections of original compositions and arrangements for piano. He has performed at venues around the world and has been a guest on Marian McPartland's internationally syndicated NPR program "Piano Jazz." An ASU associate professor, Kocour was awarded the Herberger College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teacher Award for the academic year 2004-2005.

Previous parties have featured performances by stars such as vocalist-pianist Diana Krall and singer Joe Williams; congero Poncho Sanchez; trumpeters Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry and Red Rodney; saxophonists Benny Carter, Zoot Sims and Bud Shank; pianists-vocalists Jay “Hootie” McShann and Dave Frishberg; drummers Bobby Rosengarden and Grady Tate; bassists Milt Hinton and Major Holley; guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli; pianist Dick Hyman; and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans.

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