|Richie Cole joins ‘happening scene’ at Juneteenth Festival|
|How does a world-class musician earn that status? |
"The only time I'm really happy is when I'm up there playing," said saxophonist Richie Cole.
That's 55 years of happiness, because Cole started playing sax at age 10 back in Trenton, N.J.
An alumnus of Boston's Berklee School of Music and a charter member of the International Association for Jazz Educators, Cole also teaches university master classes and conducts workshops for aspiring young musicians. His resumé includes stints with the Buddy Rich Big Band, Lionel Hampton, and Doc Severinsen, before starting his own quintet, Five by Design.
Cole will share his "alto madness" and expertise at the Prescott Jazz Society's 15th annual Juneteenth Festival at Arcosanti June 15-16. He's on the performance schedule for both days, and will conduct workshops as well.
"I'm very, very excited to come down there and work with Milt (Cannon, festival organizer) and his guys," Cole said. "It's a real happening scene."
He said even though he had met Cannon only once, back in the 1970s in Washington, D.C., where both were performing, but he did not hesitate in taking the Juneteenth gig.
"I was laying in bed, minding my own business, when the phone rings, and Milt said, 'We're having a 20th anniversary jazz festival, can you make it?'"
"Absolutely," he said. "I'm so proud of Milt Cannon for doing such a great job on the Jazz Festival for 20 years. Running an organization like that is never easy."
A world-class musician himself, Cannon said the organization started in 1994 with the Jazz Flash in downtown Prescott.
"It was two years before we made a move and became nomads," Cannon said, noting they took jazz to Sedona, the Prescott Country Club, and to Prescott Valley's Mountain Valley Park.
"That gave birth to the World Arts Festival in Prescott Valley," Cannon said. "We finally moved to June and Arcosanti. Every year the Juneteenth Festival gets better and this one will be hard to top."
Part of that is because the performers also are clinicians, Cannon said.
Cole agreed there's a great source of satisfaction in working with young, serious musicians.
"I can spot who's got it right away, as opposed to someone whose parents are pushing them into it," he said. "The younger the better."
Cole's worked with children as young as five, when the saxophone nearly is bigger than the musician. More commonly, he gets kids ages 10, 11 or 12 who are ready to learn fingering and music's different concepts.
"When people ask how they can be like Richie Cole, I tell them, 'Keep away from drugs and booze, and listen to the music of Charlie Parker,'" he said, adding with a chuckle, "Oh, and 'Stay away from bad women.'"
With world-class musicians performing and leading clinics and workshops for aspiring artists, the Prescott Jazz Society's 15th annual Juneteenth Jazz Splash Festival and Ethnic Art & Craft Fair is an event for the whole family.
It happens from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sunday, June 16 at Arcosanti near Cordes Junction, (Interstate 17 exit 263) and includes tune types from gospel to disco-funk, blues to jazz. Phoenix singer/songwriter Mel Bridges, who has performed nationally with Al Green, Journey, and the Chi-Lites, plays host to the festival, which this year celebrates "Emancipation Proclamation."
The 2013 festival, which also celebrates the Prescott Jazz Society's 20th year of existence, opens with a gospel concert by Marilyn and Ray Carter.
Legendary saxophonist Richie Cole performs both days, while top jazz pianist Billy Mitchell handles Saturday afternoon's VIP show.
A Father's Day VIP wine and cheese party features the pure beam jazz of Ron Hart and Gary Fitzgerald.
Also, on Sunday, the Prescott Jazz Society proudly will introduce phenomenal jazz pianist Yuko Mabuchi to Arizona audiences.
The festivities won't wind down until Sunday evening, after well-known Milt Cannon and the Giants of Jazz and renowned bassist Don Miller perform.
Throughout the weekend the Cannon Academy and guest artists will present music workshops, and author Billy Mitchell, whose book "The Gigging Musician" remains an important resource for young musicians, will offer a music business class.
A limbo contest, dancing, swimming, hiking, arts & crafts exhibits, children's activities, retail and food vendors, raffles, tours of Arcosanti, and more are on tap.
General admission is $20 per adult/day, $5 per student/day (children under 6 are free)
Family Pass (3 or more people): $10 per person/day.
V.I.P. Pass: $45 per person/day
Overnight single or double VIP passes are available.
For tickets and information on clinics, workshops and master classes, visit www.pjazz.org, or www.miltcannonacademy.com, or call 928-237-7908.